Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Threats to Islamic sites
Report: Israel approves 198 new settlement homes
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israel’s housing ministry released government tenders for the construction of 198 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media reported Wednesday. Noting the timing before national elections, Israel’s Ynet news site reported that the announcement invited developers to bid on two projects in Efrat and Kiryat Arba. Both settlements are in the Hebron area of the occupied West Bank and considered illegal under international law.
Israeli settlement activity highest in 10 years: chart
Al-Akhbar 16 Jan — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has overseen a record level of settlement expansion in the last ten years, an anti-settlement watchdog said on Wednesday … “Netanyahu’s government was busy doing one thing; raising money and building settlements,” Peace Now secretary Yariv Oppenheimer was quoted as saying. The umbrella committee of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Yesha council, welcomed Peace Now’s findings, saying,”we hope that in the years following construction data will be twice as much.”
Al-Akhbar organized settlement construction data collected by Peace Now into a line graph:
Department of unintended consequences?
Jerusalem barrier spurs illicit building boom
Jerusalem (AP) 16 Jan — Dozens of apartment towers sprouting up illicitly in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem are creating a fraught new dynamic in the struggle for control of the sacred city at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kufr Aqab is one of several Arab areas within Jerusalem’s municipal borders that have been separated from the city by the meandering barrier Israel has built to wall off the West Bank. While Israel tightly controls development anywhere inside the barrier, anything seems to go in Arab neighborhoods outside the structure, like Kufr Aqab. Palestinians believe Israel is turning a blind eye to the hundreds of cheap wildcat apartments being built there, hoping the abundant housing will lure the city’s Arabs to the other side of the barrier.
Israeli military bulldozers rampage across the South Hebron Hills
[photos] ISM 14 Jan — Israeli military bulldozers destroyed four homes in a morning of mayhem in the South Hebron Hills. The demolitions were carried out by plain clothed officers accompanied by 15 Border Police and two bulldozers. At 8 am Monday 14th January the house of Shoib Hathaleen in the village of Um Al Kheir was demolished by the Israeli occupation forces bulldozers. Eight people lived in the house, four adults and four children. Shoib has had a stroke and is unable to speak. The family were able to remove their possessions and pile them up next to the rubble of their home. The house had a demolition order put on it three years ago and on this morning the Israeli military turned up unexpectedly to wreak havoc on this refugee family. Their status as refugees means that the Red Cross who visited the family shortly afterwards has to check with the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNWRA) before supplying them with basic aid such as a tent for shelter from the cold. From Um Al Kheir two Israeli army bulldozers drove to an area called Shakia, near to the village of Hawara, between Um Al Kheir and Al Dereit.
Israeli bulldozers demolish West Bank Bedouin homes
Jericho-West Bank (Reuters) 17 Jan — The Israeli military on Wednesday bulldozed the homes of four families of Bedouins in the eastern West Bank Governorate of Jericho. A spokesperson for the Israeli ministry of defense unit coordinating policy for the West Bank told Reuters on the telephone that the buildings were illegal and lacked the permits deemed necessary by the Jewish state. But village leader Ibrahim Khamees Abu Dahouk says Israel has targeted them for decades, “They started their attack against us a long, long time ago. They closed off our way to the water, they closed off areas where we used to live, and they made us enter cities, despite what we wanted. It’s been a long time, not just today, some 20 to 30 years,” said Abu Dahouk. On Thursday residents were putting up tents where their demolished homes once stood. But the families have been left with no other choice other than to sleep in makeshift shelters, with no heating or electricity, “The area where we are is a very cold area, our children are used to sleeping in proper rooms and last night they were very cold. It is cold at night. We had to start a fire so we can get warm. There is also no electricity since they [Israel] cut the electricity off from us, we used to have a generator they broke it and took it. So last night we hardly slept, our children did not sleep at all, because of the cold they could not sleep,” said Bedouin resident Jamal Abu Dahook.
PA: Israeli forces demolish barns near Jericho
JERICHO (Ma‘an) 16 Jan – Israeli forces on Wednesday demolished several sheep barns and sheds in al-Zur and Deir Hajla east of Jericho, the governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley said. Majid al-Fityani said that the structures belonged to al-Jahalin Bedouin clan.
IOA destroy power grid in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 16 Jan — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) destroyed a power grid in Makhur area in Beit Jala town, Bethlehem province. Nael Suleiman, the head of Beit Jala municipality, said in a press statement that IOF bulldozers destroyed the power grid on Wednesday morning. He said that the power was cut on four homes and dozens of hothouses in Makhur area. Suleiman charged that the step was meant to deprive Bethlehem and Beit Jala inhabitants from making good use of their agricultural land. He noted that the area is considered the only available area for Bethlehem inhabitants to expand their demographic presence.
Jewish settlers establish new outpost on Palestinian land in WB
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 16 Jan — Jewish settlers established a new settlement outpost on land owned by Palestinians in Taku [Taqu‘] village, east of Bethlehem, on Tuesday. Tayseer Abu Mifreh, the municipality chief in the village, told Quds Press that Jewish settlers drove out Palestinian farmers from their land after assaulting them with the help of Israeli occupation forces. He said that the farmers were surprised to find a number of mobile houses present on their land on Tuesday morning, adding that settlers from the nearby Nokdim settlement were the ones to establish the new outpost. Abu Mifreh said that his village inhabitants are constantly attacked by Nokdim settlers, adding they are notorious for their brutality and ceaseless attacks.
Settlers prepare land for settlement expansion in West Bank
NABLUS (WAFA) 16 Jan – Israeli settlers Wednesday began work on expanding two illegal settlements north of the West Bank, said local sources. Witnesses said that settlers began razing land near the settlement of Maskiot, north of the Jordan Valley, and Elon Moreh, northeast of Nablus … Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, said that five bulldozers were seen working in the area surrounding Elon Moreh clearly to expand the illegal settlement. He said the settlers opened fire at the residents who gathered near the land and drove them away from the area.
Israeli court lifts injunction blocking removal of protest village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan – Israeli bulldozers started Wednesday evening to block roads leading to the West Bank Bab al-Shams protest village, a Palestinian official said. The work started immediately after a decision by the Israeli High Court to cancel an injunction that barred removal of the village … The court said that leaving the encampment in place could incite unrest.
Israeli officials also decided Wednesday to bar entry of 18 Palestinian activists from accessing the Bab al-Shams area and imposed fines on 15 of them.
Activists used a ruse employed during the first intifada to get past Israeli troops on Tuesday, staging a fake wedding. Two activists dressed as the bride and groom, and a convoy of cars approached an Israeli checkpoint outside Bab al-Shams playing wedding songs, singing and clapping. The activists got out of the cars and started walking to the checkpoint carrying Palestinian flags. Cameramen who appeared to be filming a wedding were in fact journalists. MP Mustafa Barghouti described the ruse was an affront to Israeli authorities. Israeli forces discovered the stunt and fired tear gas, rubber bullets and sound grenades at the activists, wounding cameraman Nasser al-Shyoukhi.
Israel razes Bab al-Shams protest village
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — Israeli forces tore down tents in the Bab al-Shams protest village overnight Wednesday following an Israeli high court ruling, activists and police said. Activist Ali Abedat told Ma‘an that Israeli forces deployed heavily in the area on Wednesday, sealing entrances to the village with cement blocks. Overnight, four Israeli bulldozers, several military vehicles and dozens of settlers raided the village and tore down the tents, Abedat said. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said all tents had been cleared from the area. “There were no disturbances,” he added. Bab al-Shams village council member Mahmud Zawahra told Ma‘an that activists would rebuild the village soon.
Israeli court sets date to hear Hebron building case
HEBRON (Ma‘an) — Israel’s top court on Thursday set a date to hear an appeal against settler ownership of a strategically-located house in Hebron, a local group said. Israel’s Supreme Court will hear the case on Feb. 17, 2014 the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee said. The case relates to the Rajabi building, which lies in Hebron’s Old City, and is subject to a long-running dispute after Israel settlers said they had acquired it from Palestinians in 2007.
High Court to state: Don’t evict Palestinians from South Hebron firing zone
Haaretz 17 Jan by Amira Hass — Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered the state to refrain from evicting Palestinians living in an area of the West Bank that the Israel Defense Forces has designated a firing zone, pending further decision on the matter. Justice Salim Joubran issued a temporary injunction forbidding the state from embarking on “the forced removal of the petitioners and their families”, and gave it 60 days to respond to a petition against former Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s July 2012 decision to expel the residents of the eight villages from their homes in the southern Hebron hills known to the IDF as Firing Zone 918 … The petition includes the legal opinion of three Israeli experts – Professors David Kretzmer, Eyal Benvenisti and Yuval Shany – who determined that the forcible transfer of a protected population contravenes the Geneva Convention, and could be grounds for an appeal to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Sit-in protest against the confiscation of lands in Beit Safafa
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Jan — Dozens of residents of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem have organized a solidarity sit-in, on Wednesday, outside the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem, in protest against the confiscation of land owned by Arab citizens for constructing Road No. 4, which will lead to more separation … The Israeli Municipality began to divide their the village’s land nearly five months ago, in order to use it as a fast road linking between Jerusalem’s northern settlements and its southern settlements, in addition to forcing the residents to use bypass roads to reach the neighborhoods of the village, as well as the confiscation of nearly 300 dunams of the village lands. Abdul Karim Lafi head of Engineering Committee in the village … pointed out that the outline Road will separate the village of Beit Safafa into four sections, which will lead to more difficulties in residents’ movement, in addition to forcing them to enter the Gilo and Pat settlements to reach their village, in addition to the noise and pollution of the environment.
11 thousand settlers and soldiers raided al-Aqsa Mosque in 2012
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 15 Jan — Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said in a report on Tuesday that number of Jewish settler and elements of Israeli forces and intelligence service, storming and desecrating Al-Aqsa Mosque, has significantly increased in 2012. A statistical report, prepared by teams of al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage and the Foundation for Construction of al-Aqsa and Holy Sites, stated that nearly 11 thousand settlers and soldiers, in their military uniforms, stormed al-Aqsa Mosque during 2012. This number was 5 thousand in 2011. The report also pointed to the different forms of raids which increase during the “Jewish holiday seasons”, noting that the settlers perform during the raids biblical and Talmudic rituals in Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Jewish settlers storm Nablus village, perform rituals
NABLUS (PIC) 16 Jan — Jewish settlers stormed at dawn Wednesday Orta [‘Awarta] village, south east of Nablus city, under Israeli army protection and performed Talmudic rituals. Eyewitnesses told Quds Press reporter that a number of coaches carrying dozens of Jewish settlers arrived at the village at dawn with heavy Israeli military escort. They said that the settlers broke into a number of historical sites and performed rituals for a few hours before leaving the village. The settlers claim that those sites are Jewish sacred sites. [See Wikipedia ‘Awarta’ article for more about these sites]
IOA uproots 100 years old olive tree in Ibrahimi mosque
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 Jan — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) chopped down a one hundred years old olive tree in the eastern garden of the Ibrahimi mosque [in Hebron]. Local sources told Quds Press that the IOA alleged that the tree was bulldozed for security reasons and to expand the road trekked by Jewish settlers to reach the mosque … The IOA had divided the Ibrahimi mosque between Jews and Muslims with the bigger part allocated for Jews.
Soldiers invade Nablus village, break into homes, mosque
IMEMC 18 Jan — Thursday, January 17; local sources in Khirbit Yanoun village, near Aqraba in the northern West Bank district of Nablus, reported that Israeli soldiers invaded the village, took pictures of several homes and of the village’s ancient mosque , and broke into the mosque. Hamza Deeriyya, member of the Committee for Defending the Lands of Aqraba, told the Quds Press News Agency that the army took pictures of several homes, and broke into the village’s mosque, adding that the mosque is being renovated. Deeriyya added that the soldiers even took pictures of stones that were brought to be used in renovating sections of the ancient mosque, and stated that the villagers fear that the army might try to occupy ancient buildings in the village under different claims.
A look at the ‘fresh’ plan for apartheid from Naftali Bennett, Israel’s rising political star
EI 17 Jan — Recent opinion polls predict that Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-anti-Palestinian Zionist party headed by Naftali Bennett, a son of American settlers, could take 14-17 seats in Israel’s election next week, making it the second or third largest party, and likely a member of the governing coalition … The rise of Bennett, who is seen pulling support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and other Zionist parties also signals the increasing comfort Israelis have with frank calls for an apartheid regime to preserve Jewish supremacy over the Palestinian majority in historic Palestine. Bennett set out his plans in the short, subtitled YouTube video above, and in a document called “The Israel Stability Initiative: A Practical Program for Managing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” (PDF).
A week in photos: January 10-16
Activestills — The struggle for Bab al-Shams goes on, as do demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank; a hunger striker has his day in court; weekly demonstrations against the occupation; farmers face rubber bullets in South Africa; and Palestinians in Jerusalem defend their community.
Israeli Violence / Attacks / Raids / Illegal arrests
Scathing report documents worst year of Israeli attacks on occupied Hebron
Mondoweiss 17 Jan — Special Report: Attacks by the Israeli occupying forces and settlers in Hebron in 2012, by Abdul Hadi Yusuf Hantash — The year 2012 was the worst in terms of the crimes of the Israeli occupation in Hebron. Hebron, the city and nearby villages, is targeted heavily and suffers under these crimes by the occupation forces and settlers on a daily basis. Even at the political level, politicians turn a blind eye to all these crimes; the media obfuscates and covers up all these crimes and attacks. The following data show the size and seriousness of the crimes:
Occupation escalates its aggression in the West Bank
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 16 Jan — More than five Palestinians had been killed and dozens of others were wounded, in less than two months, with the occupation forces’ live bullets in different parts of the West Bank. Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a citizen from al-Khalil with live bullets in November last year during clashes near Ras Jura that had erupted in rejection of the aggression on Gaza. They also shot dead another from Allar village in Tulkarm last December. An Israeli female soldier had also killed the boy Mohammed Salaymeh from the Old City of al-Khalil after shooting him with 6 bullets on the 12th of December last year. Worker Uday Darawish from Dura, south of al-Khalil, was also killed while trying to go to work when the soldiers opened fire on him. The child Samir Awad was also killed by the IOF in the village of Budrus, west of Ramallah, while leaving his school, when he was shot in the chest and head.
Israeli military attacks funeral in Beit Ummar
ISM 16 Jan — At around 2:30 pm the Israeli occupation forces violently attacked a funeral in Beit Ummar using tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. The funeral of Masouza Alja’ar, an elderly woman who died of natural causes, was attacked by the Israeli army with large amounts of tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. For over three hours the town was rocked by the unprovoked actions of the soldiers. The youth of Beit Ummar defended their town as clashes broke out. Not until dusk, around 5 pm did the town return to normal. Tear gas canisters were fired at the residents forcing them to take refuge in their homes and inside shops. Most funerals in the town of Beit Ummar are attacked by the Israeli army. The last funeral to be violently disrupted in the town was on 25th December, Christmas day. Again there was nothing out of the ordinary about this funeral so it remains unexplained why it was being attacked by the Israeli army.
Witnesses: Israeli forces train settlers to use weapons
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli soldiers were seen training settlers to use automatic weapons near Bethlehem on Tuesday, witnesses said. Israeli soldiers prevented villagers from Fureidis from reaching their land while soldiers trained settlers on the agricultural land, eyewitnesses told Ma‘an.
Occupation storms a government building in al-Khalil
WEST BANK, (PIC) 15 Jan — Israeli military forces stormed a Palestinian government building in the city of al-Khalil in the southern West Bank, and arrested a citizen in Silwan. Palestinian security sources said that a military force stormed the headquarters of the Palestinian Ministry of Finance in the Old City of al-Khalil, on Monday evening. The sources also confirmed that a force of the occupation army arrested a youth, Dhia Baraka Ja’bari, in the Old City of al-Khalil in the late hours of last night…
For their part, a group of Jewish settlers attacked a Jerusalemite boy Yazan Diab, 14, while passing from Beydoun Street in Silwan, and sprayed pepper in his face. The boy was then transferred to a medical center in Silwan.
Israeli forces detain 5 in Jenin arrest raid
JENIN (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israeli forces arrested five people in Jenin overnight Tuesday [PIC: dawn Wednesday], locals said. Yazan Kamal Lahlouh, Jamal Ighbariyeh, Fouad Ighbariyeh, Salim Hazhouzi, and Issam Samoudi were detained in the northern West Bank city after Israeli forces raided several homes, witnesses told Ma‘an. Israeli military jeeps also raided a village west of Jenin, locals said, with clashes breaking out between villagers and soldiers.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said four people were arrested overnight, with two detained in Tulkarem, one in Nablus and one near Ramallah.
IOF launches campaign of arrests in lines of Islamic Jihad activists
JENIN (PIC) 17 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up a group of Islamic Jihad activists in northern West Bank cities and villages at dawn Thursday. A senior member of the Jihad movement in Jenin told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers raided several villages and refugee camps in the districts of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Tubas, searched homes, and rounded up ten activists affiliated with his movement. He said that his movement could only identify eight of them, three from Kufr Ra‘ee near Jenin, including two brothers, one from Qabatiya, south of Jenin, two from Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem, and two from Tubas. The Jihad leader said that the campaign falls in line with IOF attempts to weaken his movement’s ability to launch any activity in the West Bank.
Soldiers kidnap several Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC 17 Jan — Late on Wednesday at night, Israeli soldiers invaded several West Bank communities, broke into and searched several homes …
The army invaded Rojeeb village, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and kidnapped one resident believed to be a member of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad …
In related news, soldiers invaded the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and the nearby towns of Al-Khader and Doha. Soldiers also surrounded the ‘Aida refugee camp in the city, the site of ongoing clashes with the army for the fourth consecutive day …
Thursday at dawn, Israel soldiers invaded several towns and neighborhoods in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Jenin and Tubas. Several armored Israeli military vehicles invaded Doura town, near Hebron, in addition to invading several suburbs and neighborhoods in Hebron.
In Jenin, the army invaded Al-Arqa village, west of the city, and searched several homes after forcing the residents out. Soldiers fired several gas bombs, and concussion grenades, and were extensively deployed in the village; no arrests were reported.
IOF arrests university lecturer Mohammad Ghazal
NABLUS (PIC) 16 Jan — The occupation authorities continued to target Palestinian academics, where they detained administratively the university lecturer Dr. Mohammed Ghazal, engineering professor at Al-Najah National University, and one of the oldest university lecturers … Fuad Al-Khuffash the center’s director noted that the Israeli army is targeting the university lecturers and academics in order to push them outside Palestine. He added that in the last few years many university lecturers were held under administrative detention, without charge like: Dr. Issam Alashqar, professor in physics, Dr. Mohammad Alsalibi, Dr. Gassan Thoqan, Dr. Gassan Khalid, Dr. Mustafa Alshunnar and yousef Abd Alhaq.
IDF demands probe into group calling for ‘price tag’ attacks
Haaretz 17 Jan — Israel’s military advocate general has asked the attorney general’s office to launch a criminal investigation into a right-wing group that distributed pamphlets at a recruitment office calling for “price tag” attacks. Settlers carry out price tag attacks on Palestinians as well as Israeli security forces and peace activists seen as working against settlements. In the current case, activists handed out leaflets at the military recruitment office in Tel Hashomer. The pamphlets expressed solidarity with Israelis who believe that “a soldier fights the enemy even if this violates the code of conduct.” According to the leaflets, “army property that is used for demolishing Jewish homes should be immobilized.”
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli court rejects appeal to free hunger striker
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Israel’s High Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal to release hunger striking Palestinian prisoner Tariq Qaadan, who is being held without charge or trial. Qaadan, from Jenin, was sentenced to administrative detention by an Israeli military court and has been on hunger strike for 50 days. He told the court he will continue his strike until he is released: “I dedicate this hunger strike to my sick child, and to my freedom. I have been detained arbitrarily several months after I was released, so I will not end hunger strike unless I secure my freedom.”
‘Celebrating’ Palestinian prisoners moved to isolation
[with video of ‘celebration’] Ynet 16 Jan — The 27 Palestinian security prisoners in Eshel prison who celebrated and filmed Samar Abu Kwick’s engagement were moved to solitary confinement in different prisons around Israel, following an Israel Prison Service decision on Wednesday. The prisoners are likely to be penalized further once the IPS probe into the matter is concluded. The IPS revoked the rest of the wing’s prisoners’ privileges, such as using TVs and radios, visitation rights and use of the prison’s canteen … Unlike criminal prisoners, security prisoners are denied conjugal visits and the right to marry while serving time. More so, they are denied even the right to meet their bride or fiancée.
Detainees in Eshil go on hunger strike
IMEMC 17 Jan — Palestinian detainees held at the Israeli Eshil prison declared hunger strike in protest to the transfer of 27 detainees into solitary confinement, and to the ongoing violations carried out by the soldiers against them. The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees issued a press release stating that the detainees started their hunger strike one day ago
Meeting Samer al-Issawi in the holding room
ISM 16 Jan — When I was taken to the holding room in the court near the Russian compound (moskobia) to await trial I was shocked to recognize Samer Al Issawi through the bars of the holding cell in front. I asked the young man standing near the barred door to tell him that I know him and that many others all over the world know his face, his name and his cause and are working to raise awareness and to support him. When Samer heard that I had been arrested in Bab Al Shams he came up to the door to speak to me in person. He was too weak to stand without support and needed to lean himself against the door, but when he spoke he spoke with strength and passion. He sends his regards to all those who took part in Bab al Shams and says that this action has been giving him strength and pride and strengthens his resolve to continue with his hunger strike until his release. “I hope this model will spread and many similar villages will be created around Palestine. I hope to see Bab Al Muhabeh (the door of love) Bab Al Huriya (the door of freedom) and Bab Al Salam (the door of peace).” Samer reiterated his resolve to continue his hunger strike until his release despite his deteriorating condition. “I will join you all on the outside soon,” he said smiling.
Israeli court extends remand of seven Jerusalemites
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 15 Jan — The Israeli Magistrate court in occupied Jerusalem on Monday extended the detention of seven Jerusalemites from Silwan, including four minors, for further interrogation. Mohammed Ramzi, a lawyer with Dameer foundation for human rights, said in a press release on Tuesday that the court extended the detention of four Jerusalemites, including a minor, until Wednesday for more questioning despite the fact that they have been held in custody since start of 2013.
He said that three other minors were ordered detained for few more days for the same reason; two of them were taken from their homes in Silwan, south of occupied Jerusalem, at dawn Monday while the third was arrested on 5th January.
Israeli court places three Jerusalemite detainees under tight house arrest
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 16 Jan — The Israeli district court in occupied Jerusalem on Tuesday decided to release three Jerusalemite men, place them under tight house arrest and fine them 10,000 shekels each. The house arrest sentence included a ban on their use of the internet and their meeting with other people than their own families. The family committee for prisoners in Jerusalem said the prisoners were Hasan Halsa, Nahar Halsa and Ali Obeid and all of them were kidnapped on November 11, 2011 on allegations of being responsible for holding Hamas activities in Jerusalem.
Waed calls on IOA to allow visits of prisoners’ children
GAZA (PIC) 17 Jan — Waed association to support Palestinian prisoners called on International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights organizations to press on the IOA in order to allow prisoners’ children to visit their parents in Israeli prisons. Waed said in a statement that “the occupation, which had banned completely family visits six years ago, has allowed a limited number of prisoners’ families to visit their sons after the prisoners’ historic hunger strike, pointing out that they only allowed the visits of the prisoners’ fathers, mothers and wives.
Al-Eesawy tried in two courts on same charges
IMEMC 16 Jan — Wednesday January 16; the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem denied an appeal filed by the defense attorney of hunger striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy [Issawi], requesting the court to void its deliberation in his case as he is being tried on the same charges at the Ofer Military Court … Al-Eesawy, from Jerusalem, was one of more than a thousand Palestinian detainees who were released as part of the prisoner swap deal that secured the release of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit on October 18, 2011 … But the Israeli army rearrested Al-Eesawy after claiming that he “violated the terms of his release” by heading to the occupied West Bank. The Ofer Israeli Military Court and the Jerusalem District Court are now trying him on the same charges.
His lawyer is arguing that the District Court in Jerusalem cannot look into a case that involves what Israel described as “a military order violation”.
British MPs plan to visit Palestine, meet with prisoners next month
LONDON (PIC) 16 Jan — A number of British lawmakers said on Tuesday they would pay a visit to the occupied Palestinian lands next month to check on the humanitarian situation there. The lawmakers also plan to visit some prisoners and hunger strikers in Israeli jails as well as some families of prisoners from the 1948 occupied lands. This came during a meeting in parliament with officials from the European network for the defense of human rights and Palestinian detainees, Yousuf Al-Sedeek foundation for prisoners and Al-Mizan center for human rights.
In a related matter, some families of Palestinian prisoners staged a sit-in on Tuesday outside the Red Cross headquarters in Tulkarem city in solidarity with the hunger strikers and in protest at medically neglecting the prisoners.
Jewish settler convicted of killing 2 Palestinians
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 16 Jan — A West Bank settler dubbed “The Jewish Terrorist” by the Israeli media was convicted on Wednesday of killing two Palestinians in 1997. Yaakov “Jack” Tytell, a US immigrant to a settlement in the occupied West Bank, confessed to the killings. Efforts by his lawyers, one whom quoted him as saying he had been on a “mission from God”, to have him declared insane failed. The court convicted him of murdering a Palestinian taxi driver in Jerusalem and a shepherd in Hebron, while visiting the area as a tourist in 1997. Tytell moved to Israel 12 years ago and in 2008 planted bombs that injured a left-wing Israeli academic and a teenager who belonged to a group of Jews who follow the teachings of Jesus.
Army fires several shells into central Gaza
IMEMC 16 Jan — Wednesday morning, Palestinian media sources reported that Israeli soldiers fired several artillery shells into Palestinian lands, east of the central part of the Gaza Strip … Eyewitnesses reported that the army fired at least three shells into a land east of the Al-Maghazi and the Al-Boreij refugee camps in central Gaza. Although no physical injuries were reported, several farmers and residents, including children, suffered panic attacks, and fled the area fearing addition bombing.
Man found dead in Gaza tunnel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — The body of Bassam Khader was recovered from a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border on Wednesday, after an 8-day search, relatives said. Khader, 42, was last seen working in a smuggling tunnel in Rafah which was thought to have collapsed during extreme weather conditions last week.
Egyptian man found dead after Rafah tunnel collapse
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — Another man was found dead on Thursday after a smuggling tunnel collapsed under Gaza’s border with Egypt last week. The body of Salem Musa Samaha, an Egyptian citizen, was pulled out of a tunnel near Rafah, civil defense spokesman Khalid Al-Ajrami told Ma‘an. He was missing since last week, when the tunnel was among several that fell in amid heavy rainfall … Gaza’s border authorities on Monday shut down all smuggling tunnels between the coastal enclave and Egypt until further notice.
Israel’s definition of a ceasefire
ISM posted 16 Jan — Beit Lahiya, 14 Jan: Just three days after the fatal shooting of Anwar Al-Malouk near Jabalia, the Israeli military has murdered another Palestinian civilian despite a supposed ceasefire being in place. Mustafa Abu Jarad, 20, was one of a group of bird hunters working on a plot of land in an area north of Beit Lahiya in the very north of the Gaza Strip, over a kilometre away from the border fence. From the border, the Israeli army began firing heavily in their direction and immediately targeted Mustafa directly in the forehead … He died in the ICU a few hours after the operation as his family anxiously waited for news.
Mustafa’s older brother, Loay, was killed two and a half months ago whilst active with the Palestinian resistance. Mustafa had no involvement with the resistance himself. He was trying to earn a little extra income for his family whilst he completed his studies. The latest attacks increase the number of Palestinian casualties since the ceasefire announcement to more than 80, according to officials in Gaza.
Report: 200 thousand passengers through the Rafah crossing in 2012
GAZA (PIC) 15 Jan — The General Administration of border crossings and the Ministry of Interior and National Security documented the departure of 209,215 citizens through the Rafah crossing during 2012. The annual statistical report issued by the General Administration of crossings confirmed that the Rafah crossing received 210,873 passengers during the past year, pointing out that the Egyptian side returned 26,199 passengers during the same year … Director-General of Border Crossing at Interior Ministry in Gaza, Maher Abu Sabha, confirmed that the Ministry of the Interior overcame most of the obstacles that hinder the Palestinian citizens’ travel through the Rafah crossing … He pointed out that the age category between 18 to 40 years is treated by the Egyptian side as security cases who are not allowed to travel except after providing justification such as being pregnant, having a foreign passport or visa, or suffering serious health diseases. “We understand the difficult security situation in Egypt, but Gazan Interior Ministry asserts that it does not allow any Palestinian youth who has a criminal file to travel because we care for the Egyptian national security just as we care for the national security in the Gaza Strip”, he added.
Spain prosecutor requests ICC referral of case against Israel’s Netanyahu for 2010 flotilla attack
EI 17 Jan — The prosecutor of Spain’s national court has formally requested a judge to begin steps to refer a case against Israeli leaders for the attack on the Gaza flotilla in 2010 to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Three Spanish citizens, Manuel Tapial, Laura Arau and David Segarra, were aboard the Mavi Marmara when Israeli forces attacked and commandeered the ship in international waters on 31 May 2010, killing nine people, wounding dozens of others, and kidnapping all the crew and hundreds of passengers. Tapial, Arau and Segarra filed the case against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, six ministers and a vice admiral of the Israeli navy who led the attack … Spain’s eldiario.es reported that the prosecutor in the case, Pedro Martínez Torrijos, found that there was “strong evidence” of “crimes against humanity, illegal detention, deportation and torture” that merited investigation by the ICC.
‘The view of these children will never leave my mind, it is just too horrible’
PCHR Gaza 17 Jan — …During Israel’s most recent military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which lasted from 14 to 21 November 2012, Jamal coordinated several rescue and recovery operations … “Paramedics, journalists, and us, civil defense staff, are supposed to be protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention. But we are attacked by the army nonetheless. In reality the Geneva Conventions do not exist. Israel has conveyed that message very clearly to us by targeting our staff and buildings; there is no safety from the Israeli army attacks. Whenever tensions rise we have to evacuate our offices because we know they might be targeted. We live in constant worry and never take a break from our work…” During the last offensive Jamal and his colleagues worked around the clock to save lives. Some memories of those days will stay with them forever. Jamal remembers one incident most vividly; the attack on the Dalou family: “…My colleagues and I spent three days there trying to recover people from under the remains of the house. The children we found dead were in the same age as my children. After the war we found two remaining bodies, including one of a girl. The most difficult thing I have to do during my work is pulling children from under the rubble…”
Study: Palestinian refugee services slashed despite ongoing displacement
EI 16 Jan by Maureen Clare Murphy — The human rights and advocacy group BADIL (badil.org) has published a comprehensive report titled “Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, 2010-2012,” the result of 10 years of research. The 128-page document by the Palestinian organization is a key resource for anyone wishing to understand the forces which made Palestinians the largest and most long-standing population of forcibly displaced persons in the world, and the conditions in which they live today … “At the end of 2011, there were at least 7.4 million displaced Palestinians representing 66 percent of the entire Palestinian population (11.2 million) worldwide,” according to BADIL (p. xvii).
The Palestinian refugee population is ever growing, and ongoing human rights and humanitarian catastrophes directly impacting Palestinian refugees — such as Israel’s attacks on Gaza, the disastrous US war and occupation in Iraq and the bloody civil war in Syria — continue to forcibly displace Palestinians. Despite this, there is no meaningful international effort to restore the rights of Palestinian refugees. Instead, UNRWA suffers a shortage of budget and thus has had to significantly reduce services.
Three more Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 16 Jan — Three Palestinians were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp, south of Damascus, and two other areas on Tuesday at the hands of snipers … Meanwhile, the Yarmouk refugee camp came under heavy shelling on Tuesday night as shells slammed into five different streets and Takadum neighborhood.
Four Palestinian refugees killed in Syria on Wednesday including teenager
DAMASCUS (PIC) 17 Jan — Four Palestinian refugees were killed in war-ravaged Syria on Wednesday at the hands of snipers in Damascus and Diraa … It said that shelling intensified on the Husseiniya refugee camp prompting many of its inhabitants to seek shelter outside it
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Protesters smash a gate set up by IOF near Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 16 Jan — Palestinian demonstrators and activists in Popular Resistance managed on Tuesday to break down the iron gate separating the villages Jab‘a west of Bethlehem and Surif north of al-Khalil. Local sources said that opening the gate came within the popular movement aimed at removing 13 gates built by the army since the beginning of the intifada to separate communities in the south of the West Bank from each other. The sources confirmed that Israeli soldiers rushed to the area, suppressed the participants using tear gas, and chased them in different valleys. No arrests were reported.
Party’s over for Perry Farrell: Lollapalooza Israel collapses as artists said to stay away
EI 18 Jan by Ali Abunimah — The Lollapalooza Israel rock festival planned for next summer appears to have collapsed just months after it was launched, and all information about it has been removed from the official website of Lollapalooza, the US-based corporate concert franchise. Israel’s Ynet reported in Hebrew that: “As had already been reported in December, many difficulties cropped up over the last few months in recruiting the famous artists to take part in the festival, and the production had also run into logistical and financial difficulties in its attempt to produce three consecutive days of performances at Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv.” Tel Aviv’s ‘HaYarkon Park,’ notably, is built on the ruins of the Palestinian village of Jarisha.
BDS roundup: In latest setback, Veolia Water drops California contract bid following boycott
EI 14 Jan — In this latest roundup of news from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, Veolia Water withdraws its bid on a contract in Northern California following sustained BDS campaigning; Sodastream’s Super Bowl ad gets spoofed by activists; and not-for-profit anti-hunger organization “in ethics bind” due to links with Israeli settlement builder Lev Leviev.
US students to commemorate fourth anniversary of Israel’s Gaza invasion
IMEMC 17 Jan — Friday marks the fourth anniversary of the end of ‘Operation Cast Lead’, a three week long Israeli assault on Gaza that resulted in 1400 Palestinians, including 340 children, and 14 Israelis killed. Human rights groups estimate that 83% of the Palestinian casualties during the Israeli invasion were civilians. Of the Israelis killed, 9 were soldiers and 5 were civilians. ‘Penn for Palestine’, a student group at Penn State University in the US, is one of dozens of schools planning to commemorate the day with a vigil on their campus. In their campus newspaper, the student group printed an article that included the following explanation of why they are holding this commemoration:
Political, economic news
Abbas stresses govt has monopoly on force
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — President Mahmoud Abbas held a meeting of security chiefs on Thursday after gunmen held protests in West Bank refugee camps over the past week. The president said that no one is above the law, stressing that the government has a monopoly on the use of force, in comments carried by the official Wafa news agency. Abbas issued instructions to the security services to intensify their efforts to maintain security in accordance with the law, Wafa said.
Fayyad says PA financial crisis improving
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Jan – Palestinian Authority premier Salam Fayyad said Thursday that the financial crisis besieging his government was set to improve in the next month. Speaking at the opening of an Andalusian cultural center in Bethlehem, Fayyad said there were “signs” the difficult financial situation would be solved in the next month, after Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the PA.
Minister: Saudi Arabia pledges $100 million to PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Jan — Saudi Arabia has pledged $100 million to the Palestinian Authority to ease the government’s financial crisis, the PA finance minister said Wednesday. Nabil Qassis told Ma‘an that government employees would be paid as soon as the funds were received, but he said no date had been set for the transfer. Qassis added that the PA had not yet received $26 million promised by Algeria. President Mahmoud Abbas has struggled to convince Arab countries to deliver a $100 million monthly “safety net” they promised when he secured de facto UN recognition of Palestine in November, prompting Israeli sanctions.
PA to pay partial salaries on Sunday
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — The Palestinian Authority will pay public sector workers partial December salaries on Sunday, the finance minister said Thursday. Nabil Qassis said in a statement that government employees would receive half their December wages, with a minimum of 1,500 shekels ($402) and capped at 4,000 shekels ($1073). Full salaries for public sector workers have not been paid in almost three months and government initiatives to increase revenue by collecting years worth of electricity and water bills from the public have been hampered by street protests.
Fatah official outlines deal to implement reconciliation
GAZA/BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Jan — Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said on Thursday that representatives of his party and rivals Hamas had agreed a set of principles to implement a reconciliation agreement. The deal is nearly two years old, but has never been enforced as the party’s continue to squabble, sustaining a five-year feud. Al-Ahmad said party officials met in Cairo and agreed an implementation plan. The document stipulates the Central Elections Commission, public freedoms committee and social reconciliation committee will resume work by Jan. 30. Consultations over forming a joint government will also begin by the same date. The parties also agreed to stop issuing negative press releases about each other, and to form another committee to oversee implementation of the agreement.
Analysis / Opinion
Israel’s Palestinians are not a minority / Amira Hass
Haaretz 15 Jan — Like Canada’s First Peoples, the Palestinians’ nationhood cannot be measured in numbers … the Palestinian citizens of Israel, whose memory of being robbed is far fresher, are not a minority. And this is a truth that is above any election campaign. In the entire land, from the sea to the river, they are one people (no more and no less invented and real than other peoples) despite their erasure from public opinion polls and despite the walls and the prohibitions on movement and the categorizations and sub-categorizations the Israeli bureaucracy invents for them. They are not a minority because they were not a minority before their families’ members were expelled in 1948 and because their families’ members and their people in exile are still attached to the land some with personal memories and others with memories they inherited along with photographs and land ownership documents. They are not a minority because they have the potential to grow in numbers, and though distinct in culture and history are attached to other peoples in the region especially by bonds of language and religion. They are not a minority because “minority” is not a neutral term but one that aims at perpetuating inferiority and unequal rights. By arithmetic logic, if the Palestinian citizens of Israel are not a minority, we Jews are not a majority. It is this fear that engenders all the government manipulations.
Haaretz editorial: Stop killing innocent civilians
17 Jan — The consecutive incidents in which Palestinians were killed in recent days give the feeling that Palestinian blood may be shed with impunity — Samir Ahmed Awad, 16, of the West Bank village of Budrus, was killed by IDF soldiers. So was Uday Darwish, 21, of Dura and Anwar al-Mamluk, 21, of Gaza. None of them was a “ticking bomb.” Their crime was attempting to cross the separation fence near Ramallah, or the one enclosing the Gaza Strip. It is not clear yet how Mustafa Abu Jarad, 21, of Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip, was killed. The IDF denies its soldiers killed him, while the Palestinians say he was shot by soldiers. Four Palestinians killed in five days. In some of the cases the IDF is looking into the firing circumstances, as the customary IDF spokesman’s response goes. But in one case at least – the incident in which Awad was killed – preliminary evidence shows the soldiers did not follow procedures, failed to use crowd control means, which were not at their disposal, and apparently did not warn the youth. The basic problem emerging from these cases is not procedural. The problem is in soldiers and commanders’ overly-free interpretation regarding the circumstances permitting killing Palestinian civilians who only approach the fence, or even try to cross it, without endangering the lives of Israeli soldiers or civilians.
Israel’s insecurity industry / Belén Fernández
Al Jazeera 16 Jan — Israel thrives in the security market by taking advantage of the insecurity of some developing nations — According to the Israeli government and sympathetic entities, Iran poses an apocalyptic threat to the world. Indeed, since its inception, the Islamic Republic has repeatedly engaged in destructive behaviour confirming its antagonistic role vis-à-vis the global population. In the 1990s, for example, Iran assisted the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide with arms and training, while continuing to sell weapons to Indonesian dictator Suharto as he presided over the extermination of hundreds of thousands of persons in East Timor. Drawing on its own expertise in large-scale forced displacement, Iran contributed to the implementation of a scorched-earth policy targeting indigenous communities in Guatemala, one of the highlights of a conflict that culminated with over 200,000 fatalities. Elsewhere in Latin America, Iran provided the homicidal Chilean dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet with useful methods of popular oppression, while helping spawn the contemporary incarnation of Colombian paramilitarism that has been responsible for an untold quantity of civilian bloodshed and other forms of suffering.
Just kidding — Actually, none of the above is true. The real culprit in all of the items listed in this sample chronology is none other than the state of Israel.
Israeli fake peace group One Voice reveals its anti-Palestinian bigotry in Facebook graphics / Ali Abunimah
EI 16 Jan — One Voice, an Israeli organization that poses as a joint Palestinian-Israeli ‘peace’ group, has laid bare its raw anti-Palestinian bigotry in a graphic posted on its Facebook page urging Jews to vote for parties supporting a ‘two-state solution’ in Israel’s 22 January election. Emblazoned with a Star of David at the center, the graphic is titled in Hebrew, ‘The Only Way to Protect a Jewish Majority – Two States for Two Peoples.’ …
Another graphic that appears on the One Voice website and on its Facebook page repeats the same message except this time with an outline map of all of historic Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip) and Syria’s Golan Heights. A line leading from a Star of David points to the map and a caption says ‘The only way to maintain a Jewish majority in the State of Israel.’ This map labeling all of the territory as ‘Israel’ and erasing Palestine is a bizarre choice for an organization that claims to support the partition of historic Palestine to ensure the existence of a Jewish supremacist state.
Chutzpah for the course / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 11 Jan — It was Oded Ben-Ami who gave the signal, with a self-satisfied grin on his saccharine evening news show: “Israeli pride, twice over even,” he dubbed the advance of two Israeli documentaries to the final stage of the Academy Awards. These two excellent films, Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat’s “5 Broken Cameras” and “The Gatekeepers,” directed by Dror Moreh, are indeed Oscar-worthy; the Israel of Ben-Ami and his ilk cannot claim bragging rights to them. Davidi did well when he hastened to bravely declare “I do not represent Israel.” This is not a matter of Israeli pride, but rather of Israeli chutzpah. Of “5 Broken Cameras” I wrote here that it “should make every decent Israeli ashamed of being an Israeli” (October 5, 2012 ). About “The Gatekeepers”: “This jolting film is a must-see: A feeling of nausea and deep disgust wells up at its end” (December 30, 2012 ). The odds that one of them will get the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature are high. It isn’t difficult to imagine the victory bash if that happens.
The festivities must be stopped. These films were made despite Israel, not because of Israel. They represent not official Israel but rather the other Israel, maligned and vilified. Davidi and Burnat showed the occupation in all its violence and ugliness, in light of the desperate war for justice waged by the brave village of Bil‘in … Moreh presents the same picture of ugliness and desperation, from the mouths of the six surviving former heads of the Shin Bet security service – one of whom, Avraham Shalom, even compares the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces with that of the occupying forces of Nazi Germany. You did not hear this in the Israeli media, either.