Flouting Ban Ki-moon’s appeal, Israel demolishes homes in E. Jerusalem and Hebron

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement / Judaization and lack of respect for other religions

Rightists protest ‘illegal construction’ in Arab village
Ynet 15 Jan — Dozens of right-wing Otzma LeYisrael activists demonstrated Tuesday in the Arab-Israeli village of Musmus opposite hundreds of enraged villagers, who have declared a general strike in light of the “provocation.”  The activists said they arrived at the northern Arab-Israeli village, located near Umm al-Fahm, to examine “illegal construction” in the area. “It’s inconceivable that the State demolishes unlicensed houses in southern Tel Aviv and such construction continues unhindered in Musmus,” said Baruch Marzel, number three on Otzma LeYisrael’s Knesset list … ”We live on these, our lands, and we will not let racist right-wingers dictate to us how to build,” Musmus resident Issa Agbarieh told Ynet. “It’s ridiculous that the whole country should be up in arms because of these lunatic racists. We’re not the provocateurs; this visit is provoking the entire region.”

Israel investing in disputed West Bank sites
AP 14 Jan — Government moves forward with plan to renovate places of heritage, including Cave of Patriarchs, site sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Palestinians: Tomb is ours — Israel is advancing a plan to invest in places it considers part of its national heritage, including nine West Bank sites, the government said Monday in an announcement that could appeal to hard-line voters a week ahead of elections. It triggered an angry Palestinian response … Other plans include renovating the West Bank site of Tel Shilo, where Jewish tradition holds the Israelite tabernacle once stood, and possibly building a replica of the tomb of King Herod at the Herodion, a hilltop site near the West Bank town of Bethlehem. Archaeologists believe it was the burial site of the Jewish proxy ruler who controlled the Holy Land under imperial Roman occupation two millennia ago. Under the program, Israel has budgeted about $107 million to invest in about 300 cultural sites and other ventures

Israel to reconstruct King Herod’s tomb
Times of Israel 15 Jan — Herodium, site of the biblical monarch’s monumental palace and tomb, will be rebuilt outside Bethlehem at a cost of $50,000 — The glory of King Herod, the Judean king famous for renovating the Temple Mount and building Masada, will rise again — or at least his tomb will, Israel announced Monday. As part of a new plan, a replica of his tomb at Herodium, situated outside the West Bank city of Bethlehem, will tower to 83 feet and will be visible from Jerusalem. … Reconstruction of Herod’s Tomb, a plan three years in the making, is part of a larger government plan to refurbish biblical and national heritage sites. The national reconstruction initiative includes some 300 projects from various stages in history, including the biblical and Second Temple periods.

Anti-normalization committee: Targeting sacred sites is a Talmudic culture
AMMAN (PIC) 14 Jan — The Jordanian higher executive committee for defending the homeland and confronting normalization with Israel strongly denounced the Israeli brutal practices against Islamic and Christian sites, and most recently settlers’ offensiveness against Jesus, peace be upon him. The committee said in a statement issued on Sunday that targeting Islamic and Christian sanctities comes in the context of the racist Talmudic culture that has no tolerance towards non-Jews.

Israeli watchdog rips Netanyahu over settlements
JERUSALEM (AP) 16 Jan — An Israeli watchdog says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s settlement policies during his four-year term show intent to make a Palestinian state impossible to create. The Peace Now group said in a report released Wednesday that nearly 40 percent of construction starts during the Netanyahu era were in settlements deep in the West Bank, compared to 20 percent under his predecessor. It says he approved large projects in particularly problematic areas.The report was released a week before Israel’s election, which Netanyahu appears poised to win.

Obama: ‘Israel doesn’t know what its best interests are’ / Jeffrey Goldberg
Bloomberg 14 Jan — Shortly after the United Nations General Assembly voted in late November to upgrade the status of the Palestinians, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that it would advance plans to establish a settlement in an area of the West Bank known as E-1, and that it would build 3,000 additional housing units in east Jerusalem and the West Bank … When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry. He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart. In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.

UN chief renews call for Israel to stop settlement activities
New York (dpa) 14 Jan – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday asked the Israeli government to rescind plans for new settlements in the West Bank‘s E1 area, where Palestinians demonstrating against the construction were evacuated. “Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law,” Ban said. “The secretary general repeats his call that any such settlement plans for E1 must be rescinded.” Ban said Palestinians have the right to protest the settlements if their actions are peaceful, and he called for Israel to respect that right.

Israeli forces demolish 2 East Jerusalem homes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli forces demolished two Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, locals said. Bulldozers arrived in the Sur Bahir neighborhood in southern Jerusalem and demolished the home of Aref Hussein Amireh, witnesses said. The property housed 14 people from two families. Israeli bulldozers also demolished the home of Nasser al-Rajabi in an area north of Beit Hanina. Al-Rajabi told Ma‘an that Israeli forces arrived at 6 a.m. and removed all the furniture from the house before destroying it. He received no prior notice before the demolition of the home, which housed a family of eight, he added.

Israeli forces demolish several properties in Hebron
HEBRON (WAFA) 14 Jan – Israeli forces Monday demolished two residential sheds, an animal barn and two shacks used for agricultural purposes in the West Bank city of Hebron, according to a local activist. The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA that a large Israeli military force and police, accompanied by a staff from the civil administration, raided Khirbet al-Hathaleen, a locale east of Yatta, closed off the area and demolished a residential shed that houses 12 family members, mostly children, in addition to an animal barn. Meanwhile, forces raided Howara area, east of Yatta, and demolished a 150-square-meter residential shed that houses a family of 12, leaving them without a shelter during the cold winter weather, in addition to two other shacks used for agricultural purposes. and destroyed almost tens of dunums planted with wheat and barley.

IOF troops go on the rampage again and raze Palestinian property in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 14 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) destroyed Palestinian property to the east of Yatta, south of Al-Khalil, on Monday. Eyewitnesses told the PIC that IOF soldiers burst into Um Al-Khair area and bulldozed animal pens and agricultural barns. The soldiers claimed that those installations were threatening security of settlers in the nearby Karma’il settlement, which is built on Yatta village land, the sources said, adding that a big number of IOF troops were deployed in the area. The IOF told citizens in Susiya village, also in Al-Khalil province, on Sunday that a number of utilities and rooms would be demolished at the pretext the area was under complete Israeli control according to the Oslo accords.

IOA intends to build road isle in Khader town without Palestinian consent
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 14 Jan — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) intends to establish a big road isle [traffic island?] at the crossroads of a main street in Al-Khader town west of Bethlehem city, a step that would prevent the Palestinian natives from arriving their homes easily. Local sources reported on Sunday that Palestinian municipal personnel intercepted about 20 Israeli workmen and road engineers who entered Umm Rukba neighborhood in the town and embarked on carrying out planning activities … Anti-wall activist Ahmed Salah stated that the Israeli plan would isolate, if carried out, Umm Rukba neighborhood from other areas of the town and the residents would have to take another road stretching more than one kilometer in order to go around the isle.  Salah also said this Israeli plan is considered a serious precedent and interference in the jurisdiction of the Palestinian municipal council of the town.

Israeli crime against the Samouni family continues
GENEVA, GAZA (PIC) 15 Jan — European human rights organization warned of a new crime committed by the occupation against the Samouni family in Gaza, after 21 of its members had been executed during an Israeli military incursion on the Gaza Strip 4 years ago. The Euro-Mediterranean Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement on Tuesday that the girl who has survived the Israeli massacre, committed against the Samouni family in 2009, suffers today from serious health complications after being hurt in the head by seven pieces of shrapnel from the occupation’s rockets. The human rights Observatory explained that the medical reports of the girl Amal Samouni, 15, show that her situation requires a serious surgical operation that cannot be accomplished in the Palestinian hospitals. The child’s mother told the Euro-Mediterranean Observatory that the Israeli authorities has been preventing them from traveling to the occupied territories and receive treatment in the Israeli hospitals, for “security reasons”.

Violence / Raids / Illegal Arrests / Provocations

Palestinian teenager killed by Israeli army near Budrus
[with video] Mondoweiss 15 Jan –  A Palestinian teenager was shot repeatedly and killed by the Israeli military this morning near the West Bank village of Budrus. The details are still a little fuzzy; some new outlets are reporting Awad was shot four times, others three. There is also a discrepancy over his age as either 16 or 17. The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) said in a press release that Awad was shot while walking near clashes between Palestinians and the military. From the PSCC: “Sameer Awwad (16) was shot today with 3 live bullets at the West Bank village of Budrus, west of Ramallah. Awwad is the fourth to be killed near the Barrier in five days. This morning, while children were clearing out of their classes in the village of Budrus, Israeli soldiers who convened by the Barrier near the school shot and killed 16 year-old Sameer Awwad. According to eyewitnesses, Sameer was walking away from light clashes that had erupted by the Barrier when he was shot from the back with three bullets, from a distance of about 100 meters. One bullet hit his leg, another at the back of his neck and exited near his eyebrow, and the third entered his rib cage and exited from his chest.:

At least 17 including 7 reporters injured as army attacks Bab al-Shams again
IMEMC 15 Jan — Palestinian medical sources reported that at least 11 nonviolent peace activists, and 7 reporters, have been injured when Israeli soldiers attacked a group of activists trying to reach the Bab Al-Shams, the new village project meant to counter the illegal Israeli E1 settlement plan in occupied East Jerusalem. Several activists have been kidnapped. Several activists were injured in their legs and arms, while one was injured in the chest and another was injured in the head. The army prevented dozens of residents from reaching Bab Al-Shams but several youths managed to reach it, and the army started firing gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets, and chased dozens of residents in the surrounding hills, Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall reported.  The army also prevented Palestinian ambulances from reaching the area to provide the urgently needed care for wounded residents, and also prevented dozens of reported from performing their duties.  On their Facebook page, the Bab Al-Shams activists quoted one of the activists stating that approximately 200 persons were trying to reach Bab Al-Shams, and added that several activists are stuck in the mountains around in the area while Israeli military helicopters hovered overhead.

Israel police block Palestinians from reoccupying protest camp
E1, West Bank (Reuters) 15 Jan — Israeli police, using stun grenades, blocked about 50 Palestinian activists who tried on Tuesday to reoccupy a tented protest camp they pitched last week in the West Bank. Israel has drawn strong international criticism over plans to build settler homes in the area, known as “E1”, which connects the two parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank outside Palestinian suburbs of East Jerusalem. On Sunday, hundreds of police officers evicted the protesters from the “Bab al-Shams” encampment, and activists said six were hurt in the process. The large, steel-framed tents remained standing at the site pending the outcome of Israeli Supreme Court hearings on Israel’s intention to remove them. Protesters who tried to return to the tents on Tuesday were confronted by police officers who told them the site had been designated off-limits by the army. One activist wore a white bridal gown and their cars were decked out in bright ribbons, making the protest look like a traditional Palestinian wedding.

Elderly woman from Jenin still suffers injuries from Israeli dog attack
JENIN (PIC) 15 Jan — A 90-year old elderly woman named Amena Hasnawi is still suffering from the serious injuries she sustained in a dog attack during an Israeli raid on her house in Jenin city two weeks ago. An informed source said that the old age of Hasnawi doubled her suffering because of the critical wounds she had, noting that she underwent four surgeries. Hasnawi was attacked by police wolfdogs on January 3, 2013 when the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed the industrial zone in Jenin and broke into her house.

Soldiers invade Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem
IMEMC 15 Jan — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday at dawn, the ‘Aida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem, broke into and searched several homes after forcing the residents out. The Radio Bethlehem 2000 reported that more than 30 Israeli soldiers invaded the camp and marched in its alleys before breaking into several homes and searching them. The soldiers violently forced the residents out of their homes, and ordered them to stay in the cold, while they searched the residences. http://www.imemc.org/article/64888

Several farmers injured after being attacked by settlers near Bethlehem
IMEMC 15 Jan — The Radio Bethlehem 2000 reported, Tuesday, that several Palestinian farmers from Tequa‘ (or Taqu‘) village, east of Bethlehem, were injured after being attacked by a group of extremist settlers as they were heading to their lands. Head of the Tequa’ Village Council, Taiseer Abu Mfarrih, stated that several members of the As-Sabah family were violently attacked and beaten by extremist settlers as they entered their own lands, close to the Nokadim illegal settlement, built on privately owned lands that belong to the villagers.
Abu Mfarrih added that the settlers placed a mobile home and a barn for their sheep, in the land of As-Sabah family…
Abu Mfarrih further stated that Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene, and fired gas bombs and concussion grenades at several farmers in the area leading to more injuries.

Israeli forces arrest former mayor of Al-Bireh, locals say
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli forces arrested two people in al-Bireh overnight Monday, including the former mayor of the city, locals said. Sheikh Jamal Tawil was detained after Israeli forces raided his home and confiscated two computers overnight, witnesses said. Another man, said to be a member of Hamas, was also arrested. An Israeli army spokeswoman said four people were arrested overnight, with no reports of detentions in al-Bireh. Tawil was arrested by Israeli forces during the first Intifada and held for several months under administrative detention without being charged.

IOF soldiers beat father, arrest his son
QALQILIYA (PIC) 15 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked a father and his son while tending to their land in Azzun village, east of Qalqilia, on Monday night. Local sources said that the soldiers beat up the father and arrested his son at trivial pretexts. They said that the father was hospitalized with moderate injuries, adding that the father and son were working in a field near to the separation wall.

Soldiers kidnap nine Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 14 Jan — Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Monday at dawn, nine Palestinians in the West Bank districts of Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Hebron and Jerusalem.
The Ajyal Radio reported the army invaded Beit Fajjar town, in the Bethlehem district, broke into and searched a number of homes, and kidnapped Mahmoud Faisal Thawabta, 25, and Mohammad Ibrahim Thawabta, 20. The army also handed three brothers military warrants ordering them to head to the Gush Eztion Israeli military and security center for interrogation. [details of kidnappings in other places follow in the article]

IOF solders kidnap three workers
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 15 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) kidnapped three Palestinian workers from Beit Uwa village, south of Al-Khalil, at dawn Tuesday. Local sources said that the three workers, all in their twenties, were arrested at a roadblock set up by the soldiers near the village and taken to an unknown location. They said that the workers were on their way to work in 1948 occupied Palestine, adding that the three were from one family.

Palestinians say Lieberman mosque visit a ‘provocation’
AFP 14 Jan — The Palestinian Authority on Monday slammed a pre-election visit by hardline Israeli nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman to a West Bank mosque as a “provocation” and “completely unacceptable.” “This visit is a provocation to Palestinian feeling,” government spokeswoman Nour Odeh told AFP. “Especially by Lieberman, who has declared his aggression against the Palestinian people and who supports settlement.” Former foreign minister Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beitenu party is fighting next week’s general election in alliance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, visited Jewish settlers in and around Hebron on Monday. The Likud-Beitenu alliance is seeking to woo settler votes under fire from the up and coming religious-nationalist Jewish Home party. During his visit to the city Lieberman called at the flashpoint religious site known as the Cave of the Patriarchs to Jews and the Ibrahimi Mosque to Muslims. “We see any attempt by any Israeli to involve religious sites in the confrontation as completely unacceptable,” Odeh said.


Farmer killed by Israeli fire in Beit Lahia
IMEMC/Agencies 15 Jan — Palestinian medical sources reported that a Palestinian farmer died, on Monday evening, of serious injuries he suffered at noon after Israeli soldiers opened fire at him as he worked on his land in Beit Lahia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The slain farmer has been identified as Mustafa Abu Jarad, 21. Medical sources said that Abu Jarad was shot by a live round in the head. He was moved to Kamal Odwan hospital suffering a very serious injury, and died of his wounds on Monday evening despite all efforts to save his life. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli soldiers, stationed at a military tower in “Nativ Hasara” settlement across the border, fired several rounds of live ammunition at a number of Palestinian farmers hitting Abu Jarad in the head. The army repeatedly opens fire at farmers trying to work, or even reach, their lands close to the border in the northern and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip; dozens of casualties have been reported.

Mustafa Abu Jarad murdered in Gaza by the Israeli army
ISM 15 Jan — On January 14th 2013, Mustafa Abu Jarad (20) was working with a group of farmers on a plot of land around one kilometer away from the border fence at the north of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip; when the Israeli army started shooting at them from a watch tower. Due to the heavy gunfire, the group ran away from the site, but came back after a while to resume the farming. On that moment a sniper directly targeted Mustafa, shooting him on the forehead. The bullet went through his head, causing him severe brain injuries. He was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital, and then transferred to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City due to the severity of his wounds, where he underwent urgent surgery to remove pieces of his skull embedded on the brain and drain excess blood. He remained stable but unresponsive in the I.C.U. after the surgery. Mustafa died several minutes after this photo was taken.

Israeli military vehicles ‘breach Gaza border’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Several Israeli military vehicles breached the border with the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, but no confrontations were reported. Locals told Ma‘an the vehicles were scanning agricultural land east of Khan Younis, in south Gaza. Farmers immediately evacuated their fields, fearing troops would open fire, they said. An Israeli military spokesman said the troops were conducting “routine activity” in the area. Israel had barred Palestinians from coming within hundreds of meters of the border, but in a November ceasefire deal agreed to ease curbs on Gaza.

Israeli special forces penetrate northern Gaza
NORTHERN GAZA (PIC) 15 Jan — Israeli special forces penetrated on Tuesday morning dozens of meters in the Abu Samra area northwest of the town of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip. Local sources told PIC reporter that “an Israeli infantry unit has stepped forward several meters within the territory of the Palestinian farms in that area, while farmers withdrew from the region in order to preserve their lives.”

Saudi Arabia to send medical aid to Gaza
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Saudi Arabia will send six planes of medical aid to the Gaza Strip via Egypt on Friday, Egyptian authorities said Tuesday. A delegation from Saudi Arabia will arrive in Sinai’s el-Arish airport on Wednesday and head to Gaza to coordinate the delivery of thousands of tons of medicine and medical supplies, which will take place in several batches over two weeks.

Egypt resumes Qatar fuel shipments to Gaza
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Egyptian authorities have resumed shipping Qatari fuel into the Gaza Strip via an Israeli-controlled crossing after unrest blocked the delivery route for over two months, a Palestinian official said Monday … Hadhoud said that ten trucks carrying 450,000 liters of diesel arrived at al-Auja crossing on Sunday. Four trucks then crossed into the Gaza Strip, Sunday, and the other six are scheduled to cross Monday.  The Qatari fuel is part of 27 million liters donated by the Gulf state to ease Gaza’s energy crisis. It was delivered to Egypt and is being transferred to Gaza with Israeli cooperation through the Sinai border region.

Reconstruction materials will be allowed into Gaza soon
GAZA (PIC) 14 Jan — Minister of Works, Yousef al-Gariz, announced that the signing of the final protocol, with Cairo, to allow the entry of all the building materials needed for Gaza reconstruction which will take place next Thursday. This came during a speech delivered by al-Gariz in a meeting held on Sunday evening in Gaza city, on the development of the construction industry and the possibilities available to meet the needs of projects of the Gaza Strip reconstruction. Al-Gariz said that the lists of all the materials that are needed for the construction of the projects, granted by Qatar and other projects, will be presented soon.

Egyptians to hold sports tournaments in Gaza
MEMO 14 Jan — EXCLUSIVE PICTURES A delegation representing sports associations in Egypt has joined Minister of Sport Al-Ameri Farouq on a visit to the Gaza Strip. The 70-member delegation included a number of Egyptian sports stars, the former Al-Ahli FC goalkeeper Ahmed Shobair among them. Palestinian Sports Minister Mohammed Al-Madhoun met the delegation accompanied by a group of Palestinian athletes. The officials discussed “important issues”, it was reported … In a surprise move, Farouq said that his country is ready to hold sports tournaments in the Gaza Strip. He added that Egypt is ready to host Palestinian sports camps and treat injured Palestinian athletes. Before leaving Gaza, the delegation visited the sports stadiums destroyed by the Israelis during their offensive in November; Egyptian and Palestinian officials played a short football match against each other as a symbol of the relationship between the two countries.

Winter storm brings more misery to Gaza
Al-Monitor 14 Jan by Abeer Ayyoub — Om Sobhi Awaja gathers her seven children around a small fire as the cold winter air blows into her home that has no flooring, windows or doors. The smoke from the fire stings the children’s eyes, but there’s no other way to keep them warm. “Since January 2009, I haven’t slept a night in peace,” said Om Sobhi while changing her daughter’s sweater, wet from the weather. Om Sobhi’s house, in the northern neighborhood of Bet-Lahya near the Israeli border, was devastated during the 22-day Israeli offensive in 2008-2009 when an Israeli tank crushed it and killed her nine-year-old son. The family moved between tents, mud houses and makeshift shelters until the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) enlisted them in a rebuilding program. Her husband, Abu Sobhi, demolished the temporary mud house and started building on the same space, settling his family in a nearby shack with a plastic roof after the UNRWA granted them two payments. But the reconstruction is taking time.

Prisoners / Court actions

Ahrar: Israeli jailers utilize the hunger strikers as guinea pigs
NABLUS (PIC) 15 Jan — Ahrar center for prisoner studies said the Israeli jailers observe and use the Palestinian hunger strikers as guinea pigs instead of considering their just demands and end the injustice that prompted them to starve themselves. Director of the center Fouad Al-Khafsh stated on Monday that the prison doctors monitor all daily changes that happen to the bodies and health of the hunger strikers in Israeli jails for mere scientific purposes.
In a related context, Palestinian grassroots groups staged on Monday a mass rally in Tubas city in solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails. The participants in the rally halted the traffic movement for 10 minutes across the city and carried banners calling for ending the suffering of the hunger strikers and releasing them

2 teens accused of assaulting Arab strike plea
Ynet 15 Jan — Two youths implicated in August assault on Arab teen in Jerusalem strike plea bargain; State agrees to drop aggravated assault charges to secure incitement conviction — [Jamal] Julani sustained life-threatening injuries in a brawl between Jewish and Arab youths that took place in Jerusalem in August. Eight of the teens involved were indicted for incitement and aggravated racist assault.

Families of 36 prisoners visit their detained sons in Israeli jails
GAZA (PIC) 14 Jan — Waed Association for prisoners and liberated prisoners, confirmed that the occupation has been adopting a series of systematic procedures to humiliate the prisoners and their families during the visits. Ziad Abu Hatab, an official in the visits program file at Waed Association, said that the twentieth batch of the families of prisoners from Gaza was allowed on Monday to visit the prisoners in the Israeli occupation jails, adding that the batch included 45 people, all first degree relatives of only of the 36 prisoners. Abu Hatab revealed in an exclusive statement to PIC on Monday that the occupation has been refusing until the moment [is still refusing] to allow the children to visit their parents detained in its jails.

Palestinians in Syria

Palestinian group: Refugees returning to Damascus camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Palestinian refugees are beginning to return to a Damascus camp they fled late last year, a Palestinian group in Syria says. Two Palestinians were shot dead by snipers in Yarmouk on Sunday, and three others in Deraa in southern Syria, the Palestinian workforce in Syria said. Despite this, a large number of Yarmouk residents returned to certain areas of the Yarmouk camp on Sunday morning, a spokesman for the group said.

Four Palestinians killed in Syria amidst continuing shelling of refugee camps
DAMASCUS (PIC) 15 Jan — Four Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria on Monday in the ongoing fighting between the Syrian regular and free armies. The workgroup for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement on Tuesday that two were killed in shelling on the Yarmouk refugee camp’s Aish Al-Warwar area to the south of the Syrian capital. The third succumbed to burns sustained ten days ago in shelling on Maliha area while the fourth was killed in clashes in Dariya at the outskirts of Damascus. The group said that a number of shells slammed into Yarmouk refugee camp, which is still under tight siege for the 23rd day

Political, economic developments

Tirawi: Fatah, Hamas meet in Morocco
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Fatah and Hamas representatives met in Morocco on Monday to discuss national reconciliation, Fatah leader Tawfiq Tirawi said Tuesday. Tirawi, who represented Fatah at the meeting, told Ma‘an the talks were held at the invitation of Morocco’s Authenticity and Modernity Party. Party representatives discussed the next steps after the implementation of the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo, al-Tirawi said, adding that the meeting was not a substitute for talks in Cairo.

Hamas denies reconciliation disagreements over security agencies
MEMO 15 Jan — A spokesman for the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has denied reports of disagreements over security agencies during the reconciliation talks with Fatah. Sami Abu Zuhri dismissed the claims as “media rumours”. Abu Zuhri said that a report in Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper citing “Palestinian sources” was based on a malicious leak intended to pre-empt the main dialogue sessions. He called on the Palestinian people and media to beware of dealing with such leaks …  The report in Al Quds Al Arabi quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the Palestinian Authority and the Egyptian government have a fear that the security portfolio could deal a fatal blow to the reconciliation process if Hamas insists on restructuring the security agencies operating in the West Bank. Hamas is known to want to integrate its own security services in the Gaza Strip with those in the West Bank run from Ramallah. There are also concerns that Hamas will not dissolve its military wing, the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades.

Barhoum: Reconciliation deal ensures security services not linked to occupation
GAZA (PIC) 14 Jan — Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman for Hamas movement, said that any obstacles that would disrupt the reconciliation process have been raised and discussed at the dialogue table. Barhoum said in a statement to PIC on Monday: “The security file was developed in the agreement of the 17th of March 2009, which was held in Cairo and it is one of the 5 files that will be discussed on the table”, pointing out that the file has been discussed in the presence of the Egyptian side. Hamas spokesman noted that several solutions for this file have been developed to ensure that the legal security services to be formed will not be linked to the occupation and will be based on protecting the homeland and the citizens. He noted that the two sides agreed on the formation of a security committee, from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, that includes Egyptian experts to work on the re-formulation of the security services, in light of the agreements.

Security agencies consume one-third of Palestinian Authority GDP
MEMO 14 Jan — Palestinian security agencies consumed 31 per cent of the 2011 GDP of the Palestinian Authority and their officials outnumber those employed in the education and health sectors, research conducted by the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) has found. While the PA general budget is nearly bankrupt, with public sector workers not receiving their salaries for two months, the findings of the research affirmed that the security apparatuses have become a heavy financial burden. MAS economic researcher Ahmed Izzat Qabajeh told UK-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the proportion spent on security is very high even though, it is claimed, there is no need for so many security officials in the Palestinian territories.

West Bank teachers, civil servants on strike this week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Jan– Civil servants and public school teachers will go on strike this Wednesday and Thursday, union representatives said Monday … Secretary general of the teachers’ union Muhammad Suwwan said teachers and school employees were joining the wider strike on Wednesday and Thursday. Zakarneh called on the Palestinian Authority to pay at least part of December salaries, rather than spending money on the remainder of November salaries. Employees received a salary payment for November capped at 2,000 shekels. This covers most of government staff and paying the remainder will only benefit the top-earners, Zakarneh said.

EU approves €100 M. to PA, UNRWA
IMEMC 16 Jan — The European Union has decided to grant the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), in the West Bank, and the UNRWA, €100 million so that they can continue to provide essential services to the Palestinians … “€60 Million will be granted to the PEGASE mechanism that provides assistance to the National Development plan of the P.A. by helping it finance its budget deficit, and implement its reform agenda,” the Commission said. This includes paying late salaries to civil employees, pensioners, low income and poor Palestinians, and helping the P.A in providing essential public services. The amount, according to the EU statement, will help the P.A. pay salaries and pensions for the first three months of this year.
The second part of this aid (€40 M.) will be granted to the UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) so that it can continue its health, relief, education and social services programs for the Palestinian refugees not only in Palestine, but also is Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
The EU also said that there will be an extra aid package meant to help Palestinians in ‘Area C’ of the occupied West bank, under full Israeli control. “It is currently impossible for the Palestinians there, and for international donors, to obtain construction permits for the Palestinians,” it stated.

Prices rose 4 percent in West Bank in 2012
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — Prices rose nearly 3 percent in Palestine over the past year, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday. The consumer price index increased 2.78 percent overall — 4.08 percent in the West Bank, 3.23 percent in East Jerusalem, and 0.48 percent in the Gaza Strip.  The biggest price rise was for vegetables, at 15.03 percent, followed by fresh poultry, at 8.91 percent. Fruit prices rose below average, at 2.17 percent. The cost of transportation fuel rose 5.81 percent, and fuel for electricity by 3.67 percent, PCBS said.

Abbas meets Tunisian president
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — President Mahmoud Abbas met with his Tunisian counterpart on Monday in the North African nation’s capital, a statement from the presidential office said.

Other news

Official: PA investigating Jenin camp protest over weapons
JENIN (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The Palestinian Authority is investigating a protest in Jenin refugee camp demanding the return of weapons to the resistance, Jenin governor Talal Dweikat said Monday. Dweikat played down the protest as the work of a few individuals seeking to “create chaos” for their personal interests. The governor told Ma‘an that the only authorized weapons in Palestine were in the hands of on-duty security officers. The PA will take legal action against those behind the protest, Dweikat added. Around 15 armed men marched through Jenin refugee camp on Sunday demanding the return of weapons confiscated by PA security forces. The protesters said they were Fatah members who supported President Mahmoud Abbas, but that they opposed some security leaders who they accused of targeting the resistance in refugee camps across the West Bank.

Nablus gunmen fire live shots to protest PA arrest raid
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Masked gunmen on Tuesday fired live shots into the air in a Nablus refugee camp in protest at a raid by Palestinian Authority security forces hours earlier, locals said. PA security raided several homes in Balata camp in an attempt to detain several men wanted for participating in protests against security forces, locals told Ma‘an. They raided the homes of Fatah leaders Muhammad Abu Zayel and Iyad al-Tirwai but left without making any arrests. After the raids, masked gunmen gathered in the camp and fired multiple rounds of live ammunition into the air with semi-automatic weapons in protest against the treatment of Fatah members by security forces. The gunmen accused PA security chiefs of targeting Fatah members and humiliating them, calling on President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, to investigate the incident.

Israeli forces detain suspect in settlement shooting
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Jan — The Israeli army said a Palestinian man opened fire on a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank on Sunday night, without causing damage or injuries. The man was detained after he shot at the entrance of Migdal Oz, a settlement south of Bethlehem, an army spokesman said. An improvised weapon was found nearby, he said.

Israel army says Gaza attack tunnel found near border
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 15 Jan — Israeli soldiers discovered a tunnel leading from Gaza into southern Israel on Monday, a statement from the military said. The army said that the shaft of a “terror tunnel” was found during routine activity adjacent to the security fence in south Gaza. The incident, including assessing when the tunnel was built, is currently being reviewed

United Nations body says Israel reluctant to submit to a routine review of its record
GENEVA (AP) 15 Jan — The top United Nations rights body says Israel appears to be reluctant to submit to a routine review of its record. A spokesman for the 47-nation Human Rights Council told reporters in Geneva Tuesday that Israel’s participation is in doubt after it asked for the Jan. 29 review to be postponed and its ambassador skipped a meeting to discuss the situation. The spokesman, Rolando Gomez, said that diplomats from other nations expressed concern about Israel’s reluctance to participate in the Geneva-based council’s standard review. Gomez said diplomats stressed the “utmost importance to preserve the credibility and integrity” of the process in which all 193 U.N.-member nations accept an examination of their human rights record every four years.

Only 0.6% of world’s Christians live in Middle East
New York (Times of Israel) 14 Jan — Christianity may have been founded in the Middle East but few Christians remain in the region, a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed. According to Pew’s newly released December 2012 “Global Religious Landscape Study,” just 0.6 percent of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians now live in the Middle East and North Africa. Christians make up only 4% of the region’s inhabitants, drastically down from 20% a century ago and marking the smallest regional Christian minority in the world. Fully 93% of the region is Muslim, and 1.6% is Jewish.

Facebook closes Israeli Arab reporter’s page
Times of Israel 15 Jan — Facebook came under scrutiny Tuesday, a day after it closed the page of Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who’s known for pointing out corruption in the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Toameh is the Palestinian affairs correspondent at The Jerusalem Post and has also published pieces in news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The Sunday Times. It was unclear whether the social network shut down Toameh’s page in light of official complaints from the PA and Jordan — as The Commentator reported — or if it was because other users flagged his posts as being offensive, as a petition calling for the reopening of the page said.

Analysis / Opinion

How 20 tents rocked Israel: Palestinians take the fight to their occupiers in Bab al-Shams / Jonathan Cook
IMEMC 16 Jan — …At a time when Palestinians hoped for a watershed moment in their struggle for national liberation, the Fatah and Hamas leaderships look as mutually self-absorbed as ever. Last week they were again directing their energies into a new round of reconciliation talks, this time in Cairo, rather than keeping the spotlight on Israeli intransigence. So instead, it was left to a group of 250 ordinary Palestinians to show how the idea of a “state of Palestine” might be given practical meaning. On Friday, they set up a tent encampment that they intended to convert into a new Palestinian village called Bab al-Shams, or Gate of the Sun. On Sunday, in a sign of how disturbed Israel is by such acts of popular Palestinian resistance, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the the occupants removed in a dawn raid — despite the fact that his own courts had issued a six-day injunction against the government’s “evacuation” order. Intriguingly, the Palestinian activists not only rejected their own leaders’ softly-softly approach but also chose to mirror the tactics of the hardcore settlers. First, they declared they were creating “facts on the ground.” having understood, it seems, that this is the only language Israel speaks or understands. Then, they selected the most contentious spot imaginable for Israel

Israel, E1, and the meaning of Bab al-Shams / Patrick O. Strickland
MEMO 15 Jan — …Israel’s staunchest supporters often taut the country’s High Court as indisputable evidence of its democratic character. They point to instances where the court ruled against the state or the military, such as a few instances in the past when rulings ordered that the separation wall be rerouted not to steal private Palestinian land. Instances like the assault on Bab Al-Shams, however, strip all semblances of legitimacy from this line of argument. A necessary component of genuine democracy is the separation of powers. In the United States, the divisions are between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In most European democracies, on the other hand, the crux division is between the executive and judicial. In Israel, it would seem, the executive branch has the power to order the military to explicitly defy the rulings of its judicial branch.

An Israeli in awe of a Palestinian act of non-violence / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 15 Jan — When I enter the voting booth next week, I will be taking a small piece of Bab al-Shams with me; my respect and admiration for people who cannot vote in this election, but who each cast an extraordinarily forceful absentee ballot in booths they set up themselves in E1. An act of non-violence is a fuse playing the role of a bomb. If the act of non-violence is creative enough, appropriate and resonant and shocking, and, therefore, dangerous enough, it will do what no bomb can: Change things for the better. Persuade. Put the lie to the liar. And cause a man like Benjamin Netanyahu to panic … The Palestinians who staked down the tents were explicit in calling their rocky hilltop encampment a village. But the manner of its founding made it all too clear to Israelis what it was as well – a ma’ahaz, a settlement outpost, no less and no more illegal than the scores and scores of rogue farms, tent camps, rude shacks and proto-suburbs which Israeli settlers have staked across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. We know it in our bones, Israelis and Palestinians as one. This is how the settlement movement began. This is how it grows. This is the very engine of occupation. This is the heart and the hand of the beast. The founding of Bab al-Shams was genius.

Lessons of a ‘Canadian intifada’ / Amira Hass
Haaretz 14 Jan — The voice of the many peoples that inhabited Turtle Island – a native name for North America – long before Columbus and colonialism is being heard stronger than ever, regardless of their size, poverty or disputes among the various leaders or various first nations. Like Egypt’s Tahrir revolution and Occupy Wall Street, the movement has grown from below and it isn’t hierarchical. But unlike these other movements, Idle No More is far more focused, uniting a distinct group of people. It began with the economic omnibus bill but is now confronting society with the cruelty of colonialism in Canada and its successors: racism, discrimination, cultural repression, the robbing of resources, impoverishment and hypocrisy.”A law on budget provisions has sparked a protest movement among the country’s indigenous people – and it’s rapidly spreading.

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)
www.theheadlines.org (archive)

About Kate

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

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