It’s not just in the occupied territories — Palestinians fear efforts to ‘Judaize’ Israeli city of Lod

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Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement

Lod’s Arab residents fear influx of Jewish settlers will drive them out
Haaretz 7 Jan by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — Many Arab residents of this mixed city fear their new religious neighbors’ goal is to drive them out – a claim the ‘settlers’ vehemently deny — One must slog through a lot of mud and garbage to get to the entrance of Lod’s old Muslim cemetery, and one can’t miss the contrast to the modern new buildings opposite it, some still under construction. This is the neighborhood of Ramat Elyashiv, 450 apartments being built at the initiative of the Garin Torani, a group of young religious-Zionist families who have come to actualize their Zionism in Lod. A sign on the access road reads “entrance to residents of the street only.” Election posters for Habayit Hayehudi flap in the wind on some of the balconies. This neighborhood was built on the ruins of the cemetery neighborhood, whose residents were evacuated. Not far from here, a similar project called Ahuzat Nof Neria is going up – also targeting religious-Zionist families. Both these neighborhoods have generated deep resentment among the Arab residents of this mixed city, who could only dream of having such neighborhoods built for them

Rabbinical students to lobby PM to drop E1 building plans
Haaretz 7 Jan — As the televised servants in the British series Downton Abbey — returning to American prime time this week — are preparing the morning breakfast and refilling the mansion’s inkwells, on Monday morning in Jerusalem the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s real-life staff might just be sharpening their letter openers. At 10:30 A.M., several rabbinical students will deliver over 700 letters to the Prime Minister’s Office protesting last month’s announcement of construction planned for the sensitive E-1 corridor of East Jerusalem. Three organizations — Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, J Street, and Americans for Peace Now, have galvanized rabbis, cantors and rabbinical and cantorial students to write and deliver the letters.

Hebrew newspaper: A right-wing group plans to buy lands in E1 area
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Jan — The weekly Hebrew newspaper Jerusalem said that Israeli right-wing activists formed a group to purchase Palestinian lands in E1 area between Ma’aleh Adumim settlement and east Jerusalem. The group is headed by Israel land fund which is responsible for buying homes and lands in occupied Jerusalem. The newspaper added that the group does not believe in the pledges made by the Israeli premier about the building of thousands of housing units in E1 area, so it decided to buy 80 dunums of land there near Mitzpeh Gadot settlement, despite it is earmarked for agricultural purposes.

Construction of Gush Etzion separation fence delayed due to settler objections
972mag 6 Jan — The Gush Etzion settlement bloc just south of Bethlehem is the location of one of the biggest gaps in the wall in Israel-Palestine. Dozens of miles of the planned route of this project, launched ten years ago following the rise in suicide attacks in Israeli cities, remain unbuilt with construction at a full halt for nearly five years. The lack of construction is due to the pause in hostilities, insufficient funds, and a political clash between government aspirations of annexation, settler pressures against the “insufficient” annexation, and U.S. (and possibly High Court) resistance to the extreme route.

Qalqiliya flooding exacerbated by separation wall
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Rainfall over the last 24 hours has flooded large tracts of land in Qalqiliya, with water unable to drain off in areas near Israel’s separation wall, locals said. Agricultural land and residential properties have been ruined by the excess water build-up, farmer Ahmad Salmi said, with flooding causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. Houses near Israel’s separation wall, which completely encircles the city of Qalqiliya, suffered extensive damage, engineer Walid Jeedi said, blaming the water build-up on insufficient drainage systems along the separation wall. The flooding has also caused extensive environmental damage along the wall’s route, destroying trees and plants, he added. Rescue crews from Qalqiliya’s municipality did their best to rescue homes, but could not prevent further flooding as the limited drainage system on the separation wall can only be opened from the Israeli side.

Israel’s PM plans to build Syria-Golan fence
Al Jazeera 6 Jan — Binyamin Netanyahu pledges to erect 70km barrier along eastern edge of occupied Golan Heights to stop ‘jihad’ fighters — Israel’s prime minister has pledged to build a fortified fence along the frontier with Syria, warning that hardline Islamist forces have taken over the area … Netanyahu said the Syrian regime was “unstable”, and Israel was concerned about the country’s chemical weapons capabilities. He said Israel needed a barrier on its frontier with Syria, similar to a structure it has almost completed along its border with Egypt – which has nearly stopped the flow of African migrants.

Al Aqsa Mosque guard held
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 1 Jan — Israeli police held al Aqsa mosque guard Tarek Bassam Abu Sbeih (32) after holding him for 2 hours in Bab al Silsile police station. He was arrested on shift after an Israeli settler entered Al Aqsa with a Knesset member. The settler took photos which Abu Sbeih asked them to delete. After the settler refused an argument began and Abu Sbeih was then arrested.

Note to artists: Say no to the Israeli visa / Lina Alsaafin
Al-Akhbar 6 Jan — On 7 December 2012, a six-member Jordanian band, Autostrad, played a concert for a mostly Palestinian audience in Nazareth. Autostrad’s Facebook page defines the band as a “Jordanian world latin-reggae-funk-rock band,” with previous gigs in the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah. Yet their performance in Nazareth caused an uproar, as many Palestinians denounced it as an act of normalization with Israel by virtue of the band obtaining Israeli visas…
Quite simply, an Israeli permit is issued to Arabs who wish to enter the West Bank, whereas an Israeli visa is awarded to those who are going ‘beyond’ the 1967 borders. “The most important and essential difference between an Israeli permit and an Israeli visa,” wrote Awwad, “is that the former is issued by the Israeli authorities as an occupying state that controls the Palestinian territories, whereas the latter is granted by Israeli embassies in Arab countries on the premise of giving visas to those who wish to visit Israel’s ‘lands’, thereby indicating that Israel is a legitimate and normal state just like other countries.”

Violence / Raids / Attacks / Arrests / Quelling of nonviolent protests

Israeli army: ‘West Bank arrests aim at preventing 3rd intifada’
IMEMC 5 Jan — The Israeli army stated Friday that it is conducting extensive arrests targeting Palestinian youths in the occupied West Bank “in order to prevent a third Intifada in the territories”, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported. A senior Israeli security official stated that the increase in what he called “Palestinian attacks against the army”, and certain attacks against settlers, could be an indication of the beginning of a new Intifada, “therefore, the army decided to arrest Palestinian activists, believed to be the moving force of these clashes”. Meanwhile, the Israeli Radio said that the Israeli Intelligence Services decided to double its activities, and to step up the arrests against Hamas members and supporters, and every Palestinian who is believed to be an “anti-Israel activist” , PNN reported.

Shin Bet chief: Chance of 3rd armed intifada slim
Ynet 6 Jan — The chances that a full-scale armed Intifada erupting in the West Bank are slim, but the chances for popular, simmering unrest with mass demonstrations are much higher, Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen was quoted as saying by Yedioth Ahronoth. In a closed meeting at a conference for Israeli ambassadors stationed worldwide, Cohen said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants to reach an agreement with Israel, but on his terms; and wants to resume the negotiations from the place they left off with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.,7340,L-4329037,00.html

PCHR Weekly Report: 43 Palestinian civilians wounded, including 9 children, during the last week [27 Dec-2 Jan]
IMEMC 4 Jan — ..The Israeli Forces conducted 83 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. At least 29 Palestinian civilians, including 10 children, were abducted … In the Gaza Strip, on 31 December 2012, a Palestinian child was wounded when the Israeli Forces stationed along the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at a group of rubble and firewood collectors. The abovementioned child was wounded when he was about 500 meters away from the border fence. In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, the Israeli gunboats positioned in the sea opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats thrice during the reporting period. The 3 attacks were respectively conducted on 27, 28 and 29 December 2012 … The Israeli Forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. Dozens of Palestinian civilians suffered from tear gas inhalation … The Israeli Forces have continued settlement activities in the West Bank, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property. [Details of these occurrences and much more in the FULL REPORT]

Undercover forces infiltrate into Bethlehem
IMEMC 5 Jan — A group of undercover soldiers of the Israeli army infiltrated, Friday, into the West Bank city of Bethlehem, using a Palestinian taxi that was confiscated by the soldiers just outside of Beit Jala city, northwest of Bethlehem. Eyewitnesses reported that the four undercover soldiers detained the driver of the Palestinian taxi, and drove his car into Bethlehem, especially near the Rachel Tomb area and the ‘Aida refugee camp, and through various main road between Bethlehem and Beit Jala; no arrests were reported, the Ma‘an News Agency reported.

Israel arrests six Palestinian youths
Al-Akhbar 6 Jan — Undercover Israeli police detained six Palestinian youths in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Saturday evening following days of clashes between residents and soldiers. The police were disguised ‘to look like Palestinians,’ detaining four minors and two other youths in the restive district, police spokeswoman Luba al-Sumri said. Undercover Israeli forces have launched several raids in recent days across the West Bank. Agents dressed to resemble Palestinians on Thursday raided a home in Jenin. An elderly woman was injured in the attack after an army dog attacked her…
Saturday’s arrests follow days of violent clashes and Israeli raids across the West Bank. Israeli soldiers and settlers on Saturday attacked protesters in the villages of Qusra, Beit Ummar, and Yatta following raids on the towns.

Israeli soldiers wound five in Nabi Saleh protest
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Jan — Five protestors were injured Friday and three arrested when Israeli soldiers suppressed a non-violent demonstration in the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh, said local sources … Five people, including a photojournalist, were wounded when soldiers fired rubber bullets at them from a close range while dozens of others suffered from tear gas inhalation. Three were arrested, said the sources, including a member of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

IOF soldiers quell weekly anti-wall march
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday violently quelled the weekly protest march against the racist, separation wall in Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil, and deliberately beat up participants … Yousef Abu Mariya, the spokesman for the village’s national committee against the wall and settlement, said that a number of participants suffered bruises as a result of the IOF beating. He said that the soldiers used against them stun grenades, teargas canisters, and engaged them in fistfights. The soldiers also assaulted journalists covering the event, he added.

IOF attack W. marches against settlements, clash with protesters
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Jan — Many Palestinian and foreign activists sustained injuries on Friday afternoon in the West Bank marches held against the segregation wall and settlement expansion … The city of Ramallah, itself, saw sporadic clashes between young men and Israeli troops near Jalazoun refugee camp. In Bil‘in village, two Palestinians were injured and dozens of Palestinians and foreigners suffered tear gas suffocation during their anti-wall march. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) set fire to a room built on Abu Leimun land near the segregation wall in Bil‘in some hours before the protesters marched towards the area. Upon their arrival at Abu Leimun area, the protesters were attacked by the IOF and chased into the outskirts of the village. The violent suppression of the march caused several injuries among the protesters. The IOF also quelled the anti-wall march held in Ma‘sarah village and wounded many Palestinian and foreign activists. In Kafr Qaddum village near Nablus city, dozens of Palestinian and foreign activists participated in the weekly march demanding an end to the closure of the main road of the village.

Israeli soldiers vandalize Hebron home and arrest a student
ISM 6 Jan — Israeli occupation forces in Hebron raided a home, arrested a Palestinian and smashed his family’s belongings in the early hours of the morning. Thirteen soldiers who came with two dogs broke down the door, arrested Ahmed Sharabati, 22, and vandalised the property without giving an explanation. As of this moment, Sharabati’s whereabouts are currently unknown. The soldiers were present in the home for an hour and a half, during which time the terrified family was harassed, furniture was turned upside down and a window was smashed. The family spent six hours cleaning up after the raid. The soldiers took Sharabati, a student at Hebron university, without telling the family why or where he was being taken … The Israeli occupation forces soldiers in H2 are soon due to be replaced by other soldiers and the locals believe they are intentionally being more aggressive to leave a lasting impression.

Israeli forces detain 2 in Hebron arrest raid
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Israeli forces arrested two people in Hebron early Friday, locals and Israel’s army said. Israeli forces raided the al-Rajabi family home and detained two brothers, Muhammad Abed al-Fatah, 23, and Muhanad Abed al-Fatah, 21, a relative said. They assaulted a third brother, Orabi, and caused extensive damage to the house, including the door and several items of furniture.

Child from Jerusalem arrested
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 4 Jan –  Israeli forces arrested 15-year old Ez al Din Abu Sbeh whilst he was walking on Ram’s Street, Jerusalem. He was attacked and beaten during the arrest and was then transferred to the Benyamin police station near Jaba city. The prisoners’ parents committee in Jerusalem said that the child is the son of the recent prisoner Misbah Abu Sbeh who has been arrested several times.

Video: Soldier firing at stone-throwing teens who posed no threat, injuring one: Tuqu‘ November 2012
B’Tselem 6 Jan — A B’Tselem investigation indicates that on Monday morning, 19 November 2012, at about 7:30 AM, students from the Tuqu‘ boys’ high school were protesting the Pillar of Defense campaign in the Gaza Strip … A video filmed by a photographer for the Palestinian Ma‘an News Agency shows what happened next. The video and other testimony gathered by B’Tselem reveal that several students were throwing stones at the soldiers, who responded with tear gas grenades and then began leaving the area. Two of the soldiers were standing at some distance from the others, right by Route 356. At that point, one of the two soldiers opened fire, firing two live rounds at the students, even though none of the soldiers was in any danger at the time and the two soldiers had the advantage of significantly higher ground … Muhammad al-Badan, 17, was wounded in the abdomen. He was taken to al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron where he was diagnosed with internal injuries and damaged pelvic bones. His father related that Muhammad was hospitalized for about a month and then recently transferred to a rehabilitation facility in the Palestinian village of Beit Jala. Al-Badan now uses crutches and a wheelchair. He requires assistance to eat and cannot eat solids.

Settlers raid Nablus village, fire live ammo
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli settlers raided a northern West Bank village on Saturday for the second time this week, leading to clashes with local Palestinians, a PA official said. Dozens of settlers from the illegal outpost of Esh Kodesh raided the Nablus village of Qusra, firing live ammunition into the air, settlement monitoring official Ghassan Daghlas told Ma‘an. Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the area to defend the village, throwing stones at the settlers until they retreated. No injuries were reported. Israeli forces deployed heavily in the area and fired tear gas canisters and stun grenades at Palestinian villagers, Daghlas said.

Qusra settler attack, two hospitalized
ISM 6 Jan — At around 2 p.m. seven settlers attacked a farm on the outskirts of Qusra. The farm belongs to Abu Nasser and his wife Nedda who are both in their sixties. Nedda confronted the settlers after seeing them on their property cutting olive trees, warning them off with a solid wooden walking stick and a firm voice. At around 4 p.m. twelve settlers returned accompanied by around 12 jeeps and 60 Israeli Occupation Soldiers. A small group from the local village confronted the settlers and soldiers to defend the farm and a conflict erupted. Consecutive rounds of tear gas were then shot onto the farm land and the settlers and the local youth (shabab) confronted each other.  During the skirmish two shabab were shot at close range with rubber bullets: one in the shin and the other in the upper thigh.  Both required hospital treatment, with the shabab who was shot in the upper thigh remaining in hospital for further treatment as the rubber coated bullet passed into the front of his thigh and out the side. One of the stones thrown by a shabab hit a settler in the head.  In addition to this the Israeli Army fired several rounds of live ammunition … The villagers estimate that in the previous 3-4 days around 400 olive trees had been killed in their surroundings by settlers from the illegal settlements Esh Kodish and Kida.

Settlers force farmers to leave their lands in Al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Jan — Jewish settlers, protected by the Israeli soldiers, forced Palestinian farmers to leave their lands east of the town of Yatta, south of al-Khalil. Rateb al-Jabour, the coordinator of the popular committee against the settlements in Yatta, stated that settlers from the Avijal settlement chased farmers from the family of Jabarin while they were working on their agricultural lands in the area of Wade Ma’in, east of Yatta, on Saturday. Clashes erupted between the settlers and the Palestinian farmers at which point the Israeli occupation soldiers arrived to the area and forced the farmers to leave their lands.

Medics: 4 injured in Jerusalem clashes
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Four young men were injured in Jerusalem late Thursday during clashes with Israeli forces, Palestinian medical sources said. The clashes took place when Israeli forces suppressed a march organized to show solidarity with hunger striking detainee Samer Issawi, who is from Jerusalem. Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets towards the marchers, who had gathered in the Ras al-Amud neighborhood, moderately injuring four people.


Four years on, young girl still stunted by Cast Lead
EI 4 Jan by Rami Almeghari — It has been four years — almost to the day — since Sama Abu Meghasib witnessed the killing of her uncle Omar. On 9 January 2009, the family’s home in Abuelaljeen, a rural area in the central Gaza Strip, was bombed by Israel. Eighteen-year-old Omar died; Sama, then aged five, “saw him stained in blood,” according to her mother, Madeline. An Israeli warplane flew low over their heads when Madeline tried to evacuate Sama and two siblings from the scene. “I was wondering how I run could away with the children, while the warplane was firing very close to the four of us,” Madeline said. “There were large white pillars of smoke behind us — right in the house and next to it.” Approximately ten months after Operation Cast Lead — Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009 — Madeline noticed that Sama had “some sort of paralysis” in an arm and a leg. Initially, she was taken to a local clinic but was transferred to the al-Nasser Hospital for Children. While there, Sama went into a coma. Sama was then referred by the Gaza health ministry to the Schneider children’s hospital in Petach Tikva, near Tel Aviv. An assessment signed by a Gaza-based specialist said there was a ‘high possibility’ that Sama had contracted ADEM (acute disseminated encephalomyelitis), a brain disease. Madeline has no doubt that the condition is linked to the white smoke that she saw. Israel is known to have used white phosphorus — a substance regarded as ‘extremely toxic’ by the US environmental Protection Agency — during Cast Lead.

Official: Israeli soldiers shoot, injure man in north Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli soldiers shot and injured a man in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, a health ministry spokesman said. Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an said that Abdullah al-Zaneen, 32, was shot by Israeli forces east of Beit Hanoun. Al-Zaneen was employed by the Gaza government to work in a rubbish tip in the area.
On Dec. 21, Israeli forces shot and injured five Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip, al-Qidra said. Israeli troops have shot at Gazans near the border at least 10 times since the end of an eight-day offensive in November. Some 30 people have been wounded in the incidents, Gaza officials said.

IOF bombs east of Khan Younis
GAZA (PIC) 4 Jan — The Israeli occupation forces bombed the eastern part of Khan Younis and fishing boats off Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Local sources told the PIC correspondent that the occupation forces positioned in the east of Khan Yunis, opened fire at farmlands and residential areas east of  the city, on Friday morning, with no casualties reported. Meanwhile, the occupation’s gunboats have targeted Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah, with no injuries reported.

Gaza refugee camps portrayed as vibrant and vulnerable in Palestinian contemporary art shown in London
EI 2 Jan — “These artists have all the right in the world to be on a platform, to have their work seen with dignity, like any other artists,” said Aser El Saqqa, a curator of an exhibition of Palestinian paintings recently displayed in Britain. Born and raised in Gaza, El Saqqa is justly proud of Despite, as the exhibition at the Richmix arts center in east London was called. He assembled this collection, along with Nicola Gray and the organization Arts Canteen. Despite has been an important exhibition for many reasons. It is probably one of the largest collections of art from Gaza ever shown, at least outside the Middle East. Nine of the sixteen artists represented at the December show are still based in Gaza.

Video: Overcrowded schools in war-torn besieged Gaza
[with transcript) 6 Jan — Nearly half a million children in Gaza attend dilapidated schools, adding to emotional traumas resulting from wars and siege (Watch full multipart The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza) — Palestinians have long invested in education, as in investment in the future.Out of Gaza’s 1.7 million population, about 400,000 students receive education at governmental, UN-run and private schools. Some 220,000 children in grades one through nine are currently taught in 245 UNRWA schools in the tiny Costal Strip. With more than 52% of Gaza’s population are children below the age of 18, this means more schools are needed in order to accommodate the growing number of students each year. Currently the majority of students suffer from overcrowding, with 90% of schools work on double shifts. Gaza’s classrooms are now severely overcrowded, and often accommodate up to 45 or more pupils in a class, with three children seated at a desk designed for two.


Israel renews detention of prisoner on day of release
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Israeli authorities renewed the administrative detention of a Palestinian prisoner on the day he was due to be released, a prisoners group said Saturday. Rawan Muhammad Ammar told Ahrar prisoners group that her father was due to be released on Jan. 3. The family had decorated the home and prepared sweets for the guests, but found out that Israeli prison authorities had decided to renew his administrative detention. Ammar, 56, was arrested on March 11, 2011, and has been imprisoned without trial ever since.

IOA tries to blackmail the prisoner Sharawna
RAMALLAH (PIC) 6 Jan — Palestinian human rights parties confirmed that the Israeli intelligence service offered the prisoner Sharawna 4 tough choices in order to end his suffering, pointing out that all the choices do not serve the prisoner who went on hunger strike for six consecutive months … The four choices were: re-imposing his previous sentence issued before al-Ahrar deal which was life imprisonment, deporting him outside the West Bank, the third option was to admit the charges against him and reach a deal with the prosecution, and the fourth choice is to accept an administrative detention sentence without any promise it would not be renewed.

Hunger striker Issawi suffers broken rib due to jailers’ assault
NABLUS (PIC) 6 Jan — Administrative detainee Samer Al-Issawi, who has been on hunger strike in Israeli occupation jails for 169 days, is suffering from a broken rib, a lawyer said. The lawyer, for the Palestinian prisoner’s association, said after visiting him on Sunday that the guards at the Jerusalem Magistrate court had assaulted Issawi two week ago and broke his rib. He said that Samer was adamant on continuing in his hunger strike despite all pressures and threats, adding that Israeli prison officers repeatedly call on him at his room in Ramle prison jail in a bid to persuade him to stop his hunger strike.

Prison doctors to amputate leg of wounded detainee
IMEMC 6 Jan — Lawyer of the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, Fadi Obeidat, stated that Israeli physicians at the Ramla Prison Clinic decided to amputate the left leg of detainee Nahedh Al-Aqra’, 41, from the Gaza Strip. The detainee lost his right leg after being shot by the army. Al-Aqra’ is suffering from very sharp pain in his leg due to infections resulting from his injury and due to the lack of adequate medical treatment as the only medication he received was painkilling pills. His family was never allowed to visit him since he was kidnapped while returning from Jordan on July 7, 2000, where he received medical treatment for multiple gunshot injuries in his legs, and was sentenced to three life-terms. Israel’s recent decision to allow family visits to Gaza Strip detainees did not include detainees who are hospitalized at the prison clinic.

Palestinian jailed in Israel suffers voice loss due to negligence
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — A Palestinian being held in an Israeli jail has suffered irreparable damage to his vocal cords as a result of medical negligence, losing the ability to speak, a PA ministry said Friday. The ministry of prisoners affairs said that Mahmud Hamdi Shabaneh, 40, from Hebron is being held under administrative detention in Israel’s Negev prison. Israeli prison authorities repeatedly ignored his medical condition, thought to be an infection in his vocal chords, leading Shabaneh to lose the ability to speak.

Family: Prisoner Shabana needs medical help due to respiratory problems
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 6 Jan — The family of prisoner Mahmoud Shabana, 40 years, said he still suffers from severe speaking and respiratory problems despite the first surgery he had undergone. The family told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the news reports that claimed that prisoner Shabana lost his ability to talk were not accurate, and that the prisoner has been suffering for a long time from pains in his vocal cords resulting in difficulty in speaking and breathing … She added that her husband had experience the same medical condition about one year ago, and he felt better for a short time after he underwent surgery, but his condition worsened in recent times making it difficult for him to speak or even whisper …The captive movement said it had filed a complaint against the Israeli administration of Negev jail for medically neglecting Shabana and ignoring his need for another surgery.

PA delegation to raise issue of prisoners in Cairo visit
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — A Palestinian Authority delegation is due to visit Cairo in the coming days to discuss the issue of Palestinian prisoners, the PA detainee affairs minister said Friday. Issa Qaraqe told Ma‘an that the delegation will meet with Egyptian officials to discuss prisoners undertaking hunger strikes, as well as Israel’s re-arrest of detainees released in a 2011 swap deal.

Islamic Jihad holds Hebron rally to support hunger strikers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Dozens of Islamic Jihad supporters held a rally in Hebron on Friday to show solidarity with Palestinians currently on hunger strike, Ma‘an’s reporter said … “Today the city of Hebron is uprising to support hunger striking prisoners although none of the current hunger strikers are from Hebron,” former hunger striker Khader Adnan said. “The protestors treat hunger strikers Yousef Yassin, Tarek Qaadan, Jafar Azzidine, Samir Issawi and Ayman Sharawna as if they were all from Hebron,” he added … Representatives of other factions joined the rally, but Hamas members were not present. Jafar Azzidine, Tarek Qaadan and Yousef Yassin have been on hunger strike for 38 days. They were arrested on Nov. 22 and are being held in administrative detention, without charge or trial. Issawi, from East Jerusalem, has been on hunger strike for 157 days.

Israeli injustice system

Case dropped against Israeli teen suspected of firebombing Palestinian taxi
Haaretz 6 Jan — Jerusalem District Attorney decides to close the case due to ‘lack of evidence’, even though the 13-year-old suspect’s DNA was found in a forensic sweep at the scene of the crime — The Jerusalem District Attorney has decided to close one of the most severe cases of violence ever carried out by an Israeli settler against a Palestinian, citing lack of evidence with regard to the suspect in question. The District Attorney’s decision was made despite forensic evidence having been documented at the scene of the crime. The suspect in the case is a 13-year-old boy who allegedly hurled a firebomb at a Palestinian taxi last August, near the Bat Ayin settlement and the al-Arub refugee camp in the West Bank. The cab caught fire, leaving its passengers — six members of a single family — seriously wounded. The suspect’s DNA was found on a glove found at the scene of the crime. The case was transferred to the District Attorney in September, and after months of foot-dragging, was closed.

Sleeping under interrogation
Haaretz 7 Jan by Amira Hass — A military judge has reprimanded the Shin Bet for failure to document that suspect was so tired that he fell asleep in his chair — The dropping off to sleep by an incriminating witness under interrogation by the Shin Bet security service lit a red light for a military judge, helping lead him to acquit a Palestinian of abetting manslaughter and abetting attempted manslaughter. This is the essence of a ruling by the deputy president of the Military Court, Lt. Col. Ronen Atzmon, in the case of Salem Rajoub from the West Bank town of Dura … Instead of a minimum 10 years’ imprisonment, Rajoub was sentenced at the end of December to five years – for selling a pistol, possessing a rifle, membership in a Hamas cell and firing into the air. Behind this sentence stood 23 sessions of a military court with a bench of three judges over the course of more than two years. According to attorney Labib Habib, Rajoub’s attorney, most of the sessions could have been avoided had the military prosecution taken the trouble to read the memorandum of the Shin Bet interrogations … one important thing did not appear in the memorandum: the fact that the witness fell asleep. In his testimony in court, Harub said he fell asleep a number of times during his intensive interrogation, which so exhausted him that he was prepared to tell his interrogators anything they wanted. At the start of the questioning Harub stated that Rajoub had not been involved at all in the killing of Sleymiye and the wounding of Maymoni. Subsequently, as the Shin Bet interrogators increased their exertions, he added details and contradictions.

Political and economic news

Palestinians change their name following UN bid
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 6 Jan — The Palestinian president has ordered his government to officially change the name of the Palestinian Authority to “State of Palestine.” The move follows the November decision by the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinians’ status to that of a “non-member observer state.” President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that all official Palestinian stamps, stationery and documents will now bear the new name. A statement from his office said the move was aimed at enhancing Palestinian “sovereignty on the ground” and was a step on the way to “real independence.”

Interview: Palestinian PM blasts Arab donors
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 6 Jan — The Palestinian self-rule government is close to being “completely incapacitated,” largely because Arab countries haven’t delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid, the Palestinian prime minister said in an interview Sunday. If allowed to continue, the Palestinian Authority’s unprecedented financial crisis will quickly double the number of Palestinian poor to 50 percent of a population of roughly 4 million, Salam Fayyad told The Associated Press.

PA financial crisis could be obstacle to joining int’l bodies
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — The Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis may prevent it from joining several international and United Nations institutions following Palestine’s recognition as a non-member state in November, a legal official said Friday. Hassan al-Ouri, President Abbas’ legal adviser, told Ma‘an that the PA is studying several initiatives to join multilateral institutions but may be restricted from joining several bodies due to the high financial cost of membership, without giving details.

West Bank govt employees continue strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — The union of government employees in the West Bank said Sunday it would continue its partial strike to protest salary delays. Public sector staff will strike on Wednesday and Thursday, and the same days the following week, the union said.

Abbas invited to attend Islamic Summit meeting in Cairo
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi on Saturday invited President Abbas to attend a series of Islamic Summit meetings due to be held in Cairo, official news agency Wafa reported. The Islamic Summit is the largest meeting organized by The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a global body which safeguards the interests of the Islamic world. The summit meetings are due to take place in Cairo on February 6-7. Abbas accepted the invitation

Shin Bet chief confirms continuation of security coordination in WB
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Jan — The Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, confirmed that the security coordination between PA’s security apparatuses in the West Bank and the Israeli occupation authorities is still ongoing, which requires to continue supporting PA chairman Abbas. Cohen made his comments to the diplomatic corps at its annual meeting this week. Ma’ariv newspaper on Friday quoted Cohen as saying that Abbas “is in control of the Palestinian security forces, which do good work and cooperate with Israel.”

Fatah’s 48th anniversary / Reconciliation

Huge turnout at Fatah rally in Gaza surprises Hamas, PA
Haaretz 6 Jan by Amira Hass — Mutual openness is one of the direct results of November’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, as Fatah sends Hamas a reconciliation message — …The freewheeling confusion and congestion so typical of Fatah events in comparison to the military order of those organized by Hamas caused several speeches and performances to be canceled, including some planned by Hamas. The only speech actually delivered was that of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, broadcast live from Ramallah. Neither the cancellation of speeches nor the injuries to some participants due to overcrowding marred the happy atmosphere and excitement at the rally. It was the first time in five years that Hamas had allowed a mass Fatah event in Gaza about a month after Fatah permitted Hamas to hold rallies in West Bank cities. This mutual openness is one of the direct results of November’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.

Fatah festival in Gaza reflects ‘new phase of unity’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Hamas’ involvement in facilitating Fatah’s 48th anniversary celebrations in Gaza reflects a new period of unity between the Palestinian factions, Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday. “We are committed to such a great responsibility and will continue in preparation for the meetings of officials to complete national reconciliation on the basis of solid and unbreakable ties, as they were in previous times,” Haniyeh said in a statement. Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said Saturday that the Gaza government’s involvement in the festival demonstrated a “great national position,” with both Fatah and Hamas officials reiterating their commitment to reconciliation.
An Egyptian official told Reuters that Cairo was preparing to invite the factions for new negotiations within two weeks, with the country having already played a crucial role in bringing both sides together in 2011.

Medics: 20 injured in Gaza City during rally
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Jan — Twenty people were injured in Gaza City on Friday as hundreds of thousands gathered to celebrate Fatah’s 48th anniversary, a medical official said. Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma‘an that 20 people were taken to hospital for treatment after getting crushed among the crowds in al-Saraya square. Several other people suffered electric shocks while trying to attach Fatah flags to electricity poles, al-Qidra added. Fatah officials said nearly one million people had gathered in Gaza City for Fatah’s anniversary celebrations.

Video: Fatah’s Gaza rally hints at Palestinian unity
5 Jan — Tens of thousands of Fatah supporters have celebrated the group’s 48th anniversary in Gaza City. Hamas, which governs the Gaza strip, allowed the event to go ahead, despite historic tensions between the two sides. Some Palestinians see the move as a possible step towards unity. Al Jazeera’s Jane Ferguson reports from Gaza City.

Fatah, Hamas meet in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Fatah and Hamas representatives met in Gaza on Saturday evening to discuss the long-stalled reconciliation process between their parties. Fatah delegates Nabil Shaath, Ahmad Nasser and Atef Abu Yousef met with Hamas figures Khalil al-Hayeh and Rawhi Moshtahi, Abu Yousef told Ma‘an. He said the parties wanted to take advantage of the good will between them, after both held anniversary celebrations in the territories controlled by the rival party. “We must build on these meetings … otherwise everyone will lose,” he said.

Jailed Fatah leader: Streets must demand reconciliation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — Imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti said Sunday that mass popular protests should be held to force political leaders from his party and Hamas to reconcile. In an interview from his cell, distributed by his political office, Barghouti called for a “Palestinian spring” to end the five-year division into separate West Bank and Gaza governments. “Youth of all persuasions in the West Bank, Gaza, and Diaspora should hold sit-ins in front of party headquarters until the split is ended,” he said.

Palestinians in Syria

Sources: Deal to demilitarize Palestinian camp in Syria ‘imminent’
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 6 Jan — PLO leaders, the Free Syria Army and the Syrian regime forces are poised to conclude a deal to end the shelling and blockade of a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, sources in Syria told Ma‘an on Saturday. The deal includes an end to Syrian army shelling of Yarmouk camp, the withdrawal of the Free Syria Army, taking down road blocks, and the entry of staple goods into the camp. On Monday, all Palestinian refugees should return to their homes in Yarmouk, the agreement stipulates. The sources said Yarmouk has been under total blockade by the Syrian army for four days, preventing the entry of fuel, food and medical supplies.

Nine Palestinian refugees killed in Syrian army attacks on camps
DAMASCUS (PIC) 6 Jan — Nine Palestinian refugees, including a woman and three kids aged five to seven years, were killed on Saturday after the fall of mortar shells on the camps of Yarmouk, Husseiniya, Sabina and Sayeda Zeinab in the south of the Syrian capital Damascus … The action group affirmed that two Palestinian young men from the camp were killed and three others were wounded in a mortar attack on 30 street, adding that the refugees are still fleeing Sayeda Zeinab camp because of the ongoing bombing by the Syrian regime army. The action group also reported that three Palestinian refugee including two little girls were killed in a mortar attack on Husseiniyeh camp.

Ex-Arafat aide: Foreign fighters infiltrate Syria camp
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — Foreign nationals fighting in Syria are using a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus as a base to fight the Syrian government, a Palestinian official said Saturday. “We’re calling committees in the camp and people there told us that foreigners are shooting at anyone that moves and they’re using the camp and the people of the camp as shields to attack government forces,” Bassam Abu Sharif, a former adviser to late leader Yasser Arafat, told Ma‘an. “We call on the UN to declare the camp as a disaster area and send international forces to protect civilians,” a statement from Abu Sharif said. The fighters belong to different Arab and European nationalities, he added.

Hamdan: Refugee camps in Syria should be neutralized
BEIRUT (PIC) 6 Jan — Osama Hamdan, who is in charge of foreign relations in Hamas movement, said that his movement was not at present nor in the past a party to the conflict in Syria. Hamdan told Quds Press on Sunday that Palestinian refugee camps in Syria should be neutralized in the internal fighting in that country. Hamdan, commenting on Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s speech, said that Hamas’s position regarding the Syrian conflict was clear since the beginning, adding that Hamas does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Why is cosmetics brand ‘Yes to Carrots’ trying to hide its ties to Israel?
EI 2 Jan by Ali Abunimah — Scan the brightly-colored tubes and pots of face creams, shampoos and other products labeled “Yes to Carrots” and you’ll find no mention of ‘Israel.’ But that wasn’t always the case. The cosmetics — found in drug stores across the United States and in two dozen other countries — used to be clearly marked ‘Made in Israel.’ Indeed, just a few years ago the company’s founders were proud of their Israeli roots and the fact that their products were made in the Negev (Naqab) region town of Arad using Israeli organically-grown carrots and mud from the Dead Sea.

Podcast: Will Israel boycott movement win policy victories in 2013?
This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast: Thousands remain without water and power in Gaza one month after Israel’s attacks; Palestinians from the Jordan Valley who were expelled when the Israeli military declared their lands a firing zone during the Gaza attacks remain uprooted; A ghost town is brought back to life through architectural preservation programs in Hebron; News from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, including an interview with Josh Ruebner of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation on the many victories of 2012, and what’s in store for the movement in 2013.

BDS – Lebanon style
Mondoweiss 6 Jan by Annie Robbins — Imagine, federal authorities showing up when Israeli goods appear in the produce section! From The Daily Star: “A Lebanese shopper discovered several food items made in Israel in one of Lebanon’s largest retailers Tuesday. While shopping at Spinneys in the coastal city of Sidon, a man, who preferred to remain anonymous, discovered a bag of three kinds of peppers made in Israel. He immediately contacted local authorities who in turn contacted the Lebanese Army …The case was then referred to the military judiciary for investigation into how the products made it through the customs department at the port or the airport.

Israeli Racism / Discrimination

IDF soldier with Arab-sounding name accuses El Al of discrimination
Haaretz 2 Jan — A Jewish Israeli soldier is demanding an apology from El Al Airlines, claiming he was humiliated by security staff at the Brussels airport because he has an Arab-sounding name. Asaf Abudi flew to Belgium in November to represent Israel in a horseback-riding competition. After spending five days in Belgium, he arrived at the airport for his return flight to Israel, where he says he was separated from the other passengers and treated rudely, and that some of the contents of his luggage went missing. The soldier’s father, Avi Abudi, told Haaretz he thinks the airline’s personnel stepped up security for his son, who is Jewish, because of his Arab-sounding last name.

Other news

Report: PA forces returned 28 Israelis who infiltrated into WB last year
RAMALLAH (PIC) 4 Jan — Palestinian statistical report confirmed that PA security services returned 28 Israelis who infiltrated into the West Bank during the past year despite the escalation of arrests launched by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians in the West Bank. The annual statistical report issued by Hamas Information Office stated that the PA security apparatus handed [back] twenty-eight Israelis who entered Area A (which should be under full civil and security control of the Palestinian Authority).

Bethlehem prepares for Orthodox Christmas
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Jan — As temperatures drop and rain falls on the holy land, Bethlehem, considered to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, prepares to host Orthodox Christmas celebrations on Sunday. The Assyrian Patriarch is scheduled to arrive in the city at 8 a.m., followed by the Coptic Patriarch at 10.30 a.m. and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch at 2 p.m. The Ethiopian Patriarch will arrive at 3.30 p.m. Scouts will march in front of each parade, Palestinian Authority minister of tourism Rula Maaya told Ma’an, confirming that President Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will attend a mass in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

Israel’s ex-security chief says Netanyahu wavering, weak
JERUSALEM (Reuters)  4 Jan — The former head of Israel’s internal security service said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday was wavering and weak in an unusually personal condemnation of the right-winger, who enjoys a strong lead in polls ahead of the Jan. 22 election.  Yuval Diskin, who retired as Shin Bet chief in 2011, last year warned that Netanyahu sought a “messianic” war with Iran. His new criticism was potentially more potent given that Shin Bet duties include vetting civil servants’ psychological fitness for security posts, though there was no indication Diskin was citing any official assessment of the prime minister.

Analysis / Opinion

Israel’s Gaza Bantustan / Samah Sabawi
Al Jazeera 5 Jan — Israel controls the Palestinian population registry and all important cards required to enter Gaza and the West Bank — Israel’s one state reality greeted us at the gates of the Gaza-Rafah crossing when we were asked by the Egyptian officer to present our Haweyah (Palestinian IDs) in order to be allowed through. It is not like we weren’t expecting this request, we knew that it would come down to this even though our Australian passports clearly showed Gaza as our place of birth we were still not considered Palestinian nationals in our own home city … Much has been written about how the system of ID cards is used as a weapon to further cement the fragmentation of the Palestinian population as it confines the Palestinians to their geographic Israeli-controlled Bantustans, forbidding Palestinians with Gaza IDs entry into the West Bank and Jerusalem and vice versa. But perhaps the worst and most insidious effect this system has is in the way it is designed to control and monitor the movement of all Palestinians and to curb the Palestinian population by denying their diaspora the right to come home even if for a short visit.

Delusions of Jerusalem / Aviv Tatarsky
Haaretz 6 Jan — The ‘eternal and unified’ Jerusalem is political sloganeering which only demonstrates Israel’s lack of courage to see reality as it is, while condemning the city’s Palestinian population to discrimination and dispossession … The most potent myths of the Israeli leadership – and the mainstream Israeli public – regarding the city can all be found in the taken-for-granted maxim: “Unified Jerusalem is eternal and ours” that the likes of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat are so fond of.  What is this Jerusalem that they claim to be eternal? It never existed prior to 1967. Following the so-called reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel swiftly expanded the city’s limits, seizing an area ten times as big as pre-67 East Jerusalem. Thus, large areas of “Eternal Jerusalem” are a recent creation. Perhaps the motivation for this extraordinary expansion of the city can be found in the fact that since 1967 nearly 35% of land in East Jerusalem has been expropriated from Palestinian owners to build neighborhoods for Israeli Jews …  “Unification” is a myth as well. A ‘unified’ city would offer equal and integrated public services in all parts of the single entity. But be it education, transportation, health services or even basic essential services such as water supply and garbage collection, the neglect of the Palestinian neighborhoods is of a staggering magnitude. Simply put, resources are not allocated blind to geographical location. There is a shortage of 1,000 classrooms for Palestinian children of school age

The racism of leftist nationalism / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 6 Jan — The left-center bloc is no less racist and nationalist than the right. But unlike the right, it is racist and nationalist without emotion. The right-wing mindset is fear and hatred. They are afraid of the Arabs, the migrants and the leftists, and they hate them. The left was once marked by compassion and sympathy for the oppressed. When soldiers broke bones, the left was shocked. When children were beaten and people under interrogation were tortured, when vineyards were set ablaze and land stolen, the left identified with the victim. This feeling disappeared about a decade ago. The emotion is gone and the left is gone. The left-center is devoid of feeling. That’s why it is being defeated. Its spokespeople have become nationalist.

The Month in Pictures: December 2012
The Electronic Intifada 4 January 2013 (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

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

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