Israel orders families in Jordan Valley to leave homes
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 31 Dec – The Israeli military ordered more than 1000 Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley to leave their homes for 48 hours to allow the army to conduct military exercise in that area, an official said Monday. Aref Daragmeh, head of Wadi al-Maleh village council, told WAFA that the army informed the families living in Wadi al-Maleh, Ein Hilwa, Wadi al-Faw and al-Burj to leave their homes by Wednesday because the army wants to conduct military training in their area.
The families, he said, have no place to go to and so they will be living in open areas in this cold winter until they will be allowed to return to their homes Thursday night. This is not the first time these families, which are mainly children, women and old men, have been forced`1trtr to leave their homes to make room for army training, said Daragmeh. The exercises are carried out with live ammunition, which usually frightens the residents, he said. The army carries out its exercise in the Palestinian populated areas only as part of an intentional policy to force local residents to eventually leave their homes and land and relocate somewhere else.
[Ma‘an: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Israel has designated around 18 percent of the West Bank as closed military zones, an area roughly equal in size to Area A, the 17.7 percent of the West Bank under Palestinian Authority control. Around 5,000 Palestinians live in Israeli military firing zones in the West Bank, UNOCHA says. Since 2010, Israel has demolished the homes of 820 Palestinians located in firing zones.]
OPT: A precarious existence in the Jordan Valley
AL-JIFTLIK/WEST BANK (IRIN) 31 Dec — For those who recently watched images of the Israeli bombardment in Gaza, the wide open hills of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank appear as a stark contrast. Flocks of sheep accompanied by their herders cross the hillsides, home to some of the most fertile land in all of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and unrivalled even in Israel. And yet despite the abundant land and resources, Palestinians living in the Valley are some of the poorest in oPt, lacking even the most basic infrastructure. The Jordan Valley is marked by a patchwork of zones in which Palestinians are allowed to live, which leave little room for manoeuvre. “These restrictions have removed their ability to be self-sustaining. They are in an artificial humanitarian crisis; they have the capacity, the training, the education, but because of man-made restrictions, they are made vulnerable,” Ramesh Rajasingham, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in oPt, told IRIN.
For a start, much of the Valley is officially out of bounds to Palestinians – 44 percent is marked as closed military zones (including so-called firing zones) and nature reserves. An additional 50 percent is controlled by Israeli settlements, regarded as illegal by many in the international community. That leaves only 6 percent for Palestinians, according to figures from Save the Children.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement / Judaization
Palestinian home demolished in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 1 Jan – Workers from the Israeli West Jerusalem municipality Tuesday demolished a Palestinian home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawieh under the pretext it was built without a permit, according to the house owner. Ahmad Issawi, 40, told WAFA that the workers brought a bulldozer and proceeded to demolish the 145-square meter house, which was still under construction. A police force provided cover for the bulldozer during the demolition. Issawi said he has been living for 10 years in a small house with his wife and three children and has wanted to build a bigger house for them. However, he added, the West Jerusalem municipality refused to give him a permit to build on his land claiming it wants to turn that area into a public park. Issawi is brother of Samer Issawi, who is being held in Israeli jails and has been on hunger strike since August 1 demanding his release. Israeli police has been targeting the Issawi family for a long time, raiding their home at night and arresting brothers and sisters of Samer in what the family says is obvious revenge tactics.
Israel demolishes home in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 31 Dec – Workers from the all-Israeli West Jerusalem municipality Monday demolished a Palestinian-owned home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukabber under the pretext of building without permit, according to the house owner. Mohammad Shqeirat, 58, told WAFA that workers and a large police force came to his house, forced him and his family of 25 people to leave it quickly and then started to demolish it over its furniture. He said he was not given a prior warning of the demolition and was not given enough time to remove his stuff. Shqeirat said he has tried for almost 15 years to obtain a permit to build and to add on to his existing house but all his efforts have failed. [IMEMC: “We are a large family of 9 sons, 12 grandsons, besides me and my wife, I have seven sons over the age of 25 who are about to get married,” Shqeirat said, “They do not have a place to stay, we own the land, but Israel is not allowing us to build, it seems that they do not take our natural growth into consideration.”
Amona eviction deferred to April
Ynet 1 Jan — Court orders State to evict illegal West Bank outpost by end of April despite government bid for six months … The settlers residing in Amona claim that they had legally purchased the land from its original owner. Amona’s eviction has been postponed several times, most recently because of the nearing elections. The outpost, which was erected in 1995, was the scene of bloody clashes between settlers and IDF forces in 2006, during its first eviction attempt.Since then, the resistance mounted during Amona’s eviction has become a symbol for the settlers’ struggle against the government’s intentions to remove illegal settlements.
The West Bank’s 2012: The year of the Israeli settlement
TIME 31 Dec by Karl Vick — At the start of 2012, the Israeli advocacy group Peace Now, which seeks a two-state solution, warned that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was building Jewish settlements on the West Bank at a pace that, if allowed to continue, would carve up the land to a point that would doom the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. Twelve months later, that pace has nearly quintupled. In one week of December alone, Netanyahu’s government pushed forward plans for 11,000 homes beyond the Green Line that marked Israel’s 1967 border — nearly as many settler homes as were approved in the previous 10 years combined. The explosion in activity has made 2012 the Year of the Settlement, inspiring a new level of war-themed rhetoric from settlement opponents. “Unprecedented Planning Strike on East Jerusalem,” says the Peace Now website, “6,600 units in 4 days,” Netanyahu makes no apology for the surge in promised building, despite waves of opprobrium from Europe and the U.S. Israelis go to the polls on Jan. 22, and the most serious challenge to Netanyahu’s campaign has come from a new party that champions settlements.
Report: IOA seizes 28 thousand dunums, demolishes 600 homes during 2012
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 1 Jan — The Palestinian Land Research Center confirmed that the Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) have stepped up significantly, over the past year (2012), the confiscation and demolition policies in the West Bank, where they confiscated 28 thousand dunums (1 dunum = 1000 square meters [or 1/4 acre]) and destroyed 600 homes. The center said, in a report, said that 2012 was “the most formidable in terms of seizing land and uprooting, burning, and bulldozing trees, and the most formidable in terms of demolishing Palestinian houses and terrorize and displace their owners.
Israeli wall isolates Palestinian communities
Bir Nabala, occupied Palestinian territories (Al Jazeera) 1 Jan by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Shops are shuttered, and their signs are slowly rusting. Most apartment windows are broken, while those that remain in their frames are covered in dust. A single mechanic’s garage is operating, though cars seldom drive through the area. This neighbourhood once housed approximately 250 Palestinian families and dozens of bustling shops and businesses. Today, the streets of Bir Nabala are empty. “Bir Nabala is destroyed. It’s like a small prison,” says local council leader Tawfiq Al Nabali, standing in front of Israel’s grey, eight-metre-high separation barrier, and rows of empty apartment blocks. Covered in graffiti and topped with barbed wire, the Israeli wall snakes around Bir Nabala, cutting off the once economically vibrant West Bank town from East Jerusalem, and making travel to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority government, much more difficult. “They want to make our lives very hard and make us suffer in order to make us leave our lands,” Al Nabali said from the local municipal offices, located just off the sole access road leading to and from Bir Nabala. “The [Israeli] settlers are free to go anywhere, while we need permits to move. We can’t reach Jerusalem. I don’t like to go [to Jerusalem] anymore because I feel very sad.”
One note of hope:
‘Ghost town’ brought back to life in Hebron
HEBRON (EI/IPS) 31 Dec by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Every day, Anas Maraka sees his family’s home, but can’t go inside. “It’s hardest for my grandfather,” said Maraka, referring to the house overlooking Shuhada Street, once the central marketplace in Hebron’s old city. While he never lived there himself, Maraka explained that being so close — and yet, so far — from his family’s ancestral home motivates him to maintain Palestinians’ presence in the largest, and one of the most tense and volatile, cities in the West Bank. “I like the old city. It’s our culture. Our goal is to rehabilitate houses in the old city and bring people back to abandoned houses. We want to improve the quality of life,” explained Maraka, a member of the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC). In 15 years of work, HRC has refurbished approximately 900 houses in the old city of Hebron. This rehabilitation, Maraka said, has helped some 10,000 Palestinians to return to the area. “After the second intifada, most people left their houses. They were afraid to go back because of the Israeli settlers and the Israeli military. They can’t live easily in the old city, but we’re trying to bring them back. We can’t leave this area because the settlers would come to take the houses,” Maraka said.
State bars Westerners living in West Bank from entering Israel, East Jerusalem
Haaretz 2 Jan by Amira Hass — Israel recently renewed restrictions on the freedom of movement of foreigners nationals who live and work in the West Bank that prohibit them from entering East Jerusalem or Israel. The changes were discovered when foreigners learned, after renewing their tourist visas, that the words “Judea and Samaria only” had been stamped inside. Citizens from these countries who come to live in Israel or Jewish settlements in the West Bank are not subjected to these restrictions … Some of these individuals are Palestinians who were born in the West Bank and whose residency status was rescinded by Israel prior to 1994 due to their prolonged residence abroad. Others are married to Palestinians, while still others work in the West Bank, often as university teachers. The American Consulate in Jerusalem has expressed its displeasure with the restrictions. They contravene prior understandings to lift similar restrictions that the Interior Ministry imposed suddenly in the summer of 2009, when “PA only” was stamped in Western nationals’ passports.
East Jerusalem, where the streets have no (political) names
Haaretz 2 Jan — Last week, the Municipal Names Committee approved 43 street names for Arab areas, but the names are devoid of any symbolism or historical significance. In Beit Safafa, for example, streets will be given Arabic names meaning apartments, granary, sickle, pitchfork, mirror, flood, ladder, bridge, unity and faith. In the Old City, streets were named “Plaza” and “Hotel.” … While Jewish Jerusalem has its share of streets named for flowers, spices, foods or geographic features, … most roads in Jewish neighborhoods commemorate famous Jews – historical and religious figures, or people who played a role in the city’s development – or major events in Israeli history. The municipality contends that the residents themselves proposed these street names. But residents say they were told before the process began to choose neutral names, so that they could be approved with no hitches. “From the start, they told us they would not agree to the names of writers, or religious or political figures, so we just didn’t go there,” said Khalil Alian, a member of the Beit Safafa community council.
Islamic Christian authority slams Judaization of names of Jerusalem streets
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 1 Jan — The Islamic Christian authority for supporting Jerusalem and holy sites said Israel’s use of fabricated names of streets and historical places in the old city of Jerusalem was a violation of the international law. In a press release on Monday, Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic Christian authority, said these new Hebrew names of streets and historical sites in the old city is aimed at consolidating Israel’s sovereignty over east Jerusalem and claiming the Arab and Islamic heritage as Jewish.
In a separate incident, the Israeli municipal council in Jerusalem declared its intention to allow an Israeli company to build a settlement outpost in Bab Al-Amoud district. According to an announcement circulated in Bab Al-Amoud, Karen Shali company filed a request with the Israeli planning committee to approve the building of 17 housing units in the old street of Jericho in Ras Al-Amoud neighborhood near the Mount of Zeitoun in east Jerusalem.
Israeli Violence / Raids / Clashes / Arrests
Dozens injured in Jenin clashes after undercover Israeli arrest raid
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — At least thirty people were injured during clashes in a Jenin village on Tuesday after an undercover Israeli arrest operation in the area, Ma‘an’s correspondent said. Israeli forces raided the village of Tamoun, south Jenin and arrested Murad Bani Odeh, a member of Islamic Jihad, leading to clashes with residents, a local official told Ma‘an. At least thirty people were wounded in the clashes, with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers, head of a local committee against settlements Ahmed Assad said. One man was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister and taken to hospital for treatment…
Dozens of Israeli military jeeps arrived in the area as reinforcements during the clashes and set up checkpoints at the entrances to the village, preventing people from leaving, Assad added. Locals said that the Israeli soldiers were disguised as vegetable vendors during the arrest operation, The Associated Press reported. The soldiers were part of Israel’s Mistaarvim, or Arabized, elite unit, Israeli media reported.
Israeli forces attack Tammun. 4 injured from live bullets
ISM 1 Jan — From 9am to 6pm Israeli special forces, regular army and border police attacked the village of Tammun, south of Jenin. They used helicopters, many soldiers firing live rounds of ammunition, tear gas and plastic coated steel bullets. 35 people were injured, including 4 with live bullets. 2 children sustained serious head injuries from tear gas canisters … The forces interrogated and beat Murad whilst blindfolded. These special forces, called Duvdevan, are known for targeted assassinations. Murad was told to climb over a wall, but fearing that this could be an excuse to kill him, he refused. The soldiers severely beat him for this. The soldiers vandalised the house, breaking furniture and shooting walls, wardrobes, beds, mirrors and a fridge. Last year the same family was raided by these forces. The two brothers were stripped naked and tied to an olive tree in their front garden. Today, soldiers entered another home. They searched it, broke furniture and shot around the house as well. They threatened the mother that if her husband doesn’t hand himself in, in 24 hours, they will kill him.
Further incursions into Urif
ISM 30 Dec — International Solidarity Movement, Urif, Occupied Palestine – Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Urif for the fourth time in six days on Saturday 29th December. Urif has been attacked by settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Yizhar on every Saturday in the past few months. Armed settlers protected by soldiers go down the hills overlooking Urif and start throwing stones at the local school as well as homes situated on the outskirts of the village … On the nights of Monday and Wednesday soldiers, without provocation, entered the village at 1:00am and shot tear-gas and stun grenades until the early hours of the morning. On Thursday, Israeli soldiers attacked a school with tear-gas and stun grenades, sending scores of three to six year old children running down the hills of Urif, and then imposed a curfew on the village. The massive amount of tear-gas shot in the village has also led to seventeen women having a miscarriage in the past month.
Ten citizens wounded in Salfit night clashes
SALFIT (PIC) 1 Jan — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed downtown Salfit on Monday night and fired rubber bullets and teargas at citizens wounding ten of them. Local sources said that IOF soldiers patrolled the city streets on foot in a further provocation of the citizens who threw stones and empty bottles on the invaders. They said that one of the citizens was wounded in his neck with a rubber bullet while a second was injured in his hand while eight others were treated for gas inhalation. The confrontations took place at the city’s main roundabout near the grand mosque
Committee: Army closes Nabi Saleh, clashes with youth
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Israeli forces clashed with residents of West Bank village Nabi Saleh on Monday, witnesses said, after troops closed the main entrance to the community. A popular committee spokesman said Israeli forces closed the main iron gate leading to the village around midday, sparking clashes with local youth. Troops fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at the residents, he said.
Israeli military conducts illegal operations in Tel Rumeida, Hebron
ISM 31 Dec — The Israeli occupation forces have shown a large amount of aggression recently in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Al Khalil (Hebron). Three Palestinian homes near the ancient Jewish cemetery were entered and searched on the 30 December. Another apartment rented by internationals had soldiers attempting to forcibly enter that same night, the armies’ alleged reason was to get onto the roof. Today (31 December) Israeli army personnel entered deep into the H1 Palestinian-controlled area of the neighborhood at 4 pm and apprehended a person at a shop who was using a knife for his work. They detained him for more than an hour, during that time he was kept blindfolded. The Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron of 1997 cites that “Israel will continue to carry the responsibility for overall security of Israelis” and that “both sides reiterate their commitment to maintain normal life throughout the City of Hebron and to prevent any provocation or friction that may affect the normal life in the city.” In the above described case there is no doubt the Israeli military overstepped their bounds. There was no security threat to any Israeli, therefore apprehending anyone or entering any place was a clear violation of the Oslo III agreement.
Occupation grants soldier who killed Salaymeh a medal of honor
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 1 Jan — The Inspector General of the Israeli occupation Police, Yohanan Danino, granted the Israeli soldier who had killed the youth Muhammad Salaymeh a medal of honor. The Israeli soldier had shot Martyr Salaymeh, 17, in mid-December last year after he had not responded to her call, as he suffered hearing impairment. Yohanan Danino commended the ability of the soldier to “successfully” deal with the situation, according to his claims.
Settlers raid Nablus village, burn Hebron car
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 1 Jan — Dozens of settlers raided the northern West Bank village Qusra overnight Monday, uprooting more than 190 olive trees, an official told Ma‘an. Several residents of the village, near Nablus, were assaulted, and homes and a tractor were also damaged in the raid, settlement monitoring official Ghassan Daghlas said. Palestinian security guards chased the settlers, and detained four of them for a short period of time. The Israeli forces quickly intervened, entered the village, and released the settlers, Daghlas said.
Also overnight, settlers entered Beit Ummar village north of Hebron, and burned a car and tractor belonging to resident Suhail Bragheith. The vandals also sprayed graffiti saying: “A good Arab is a dead Arab” and “Yitzhar revenge is on the properties today, and tomorrow will be on the souls.” Israeli troops entered the village, and told residents they would investigate.
Red Crescent attacked during settler raids in Qusra
ISM 1 Jan — While people around the world were celebrating the start of a new year the Palestinian town of Qusra in the West Bank was under attack. Around midnight settlers entered the agricultural outskirts of the town, uprooting approximately 250 trees. Reports from some of the villagers spoke of the Israeli Army lighting parachute flares over the olive groves to assist the vandals. After a long night, the settlers returned in the morning with dogs. An elderly woman was home alone when she heard stones begin to pelt the outside of her house. Angry voices screamed “come out Arab men, come out and fight”. They trashed the tractor parked in her driveway, smashing its windows. Large stones built up on her rooftop, still visible when ISM visited her a few hours later. The woman called for help and villagers responded by marching en-mass towards her house. At this point the settlers fled to a hilltop above the town and the Israeli Occupation Force moved in. Angry clashes followed between the villagers and the Army causing significant casualties: at least 5 people were hospitalised …
While the Army engaged villagers in Qusra, reports came that the settlers had moved on to the village of Jalud. They set up a makeshift roadblock between Jalud and Qusra, terrorising Palestinian cars moving between the two villages. At around 3pm a Red Crescent driver was driving supplies between Jalud and Qusra when he encountered the roadblock. The driver — Abdul Kareem Hassan — had his vehicle stopped and was pelted with numerous large stones by the settlers. Every window of the vehicle was smashed and Abdul Kareem suffered blows to head from the stones. .
Villagers in Yasouf plough land near Za‘tara checkpoint despite settler harassment
ISM 31 Dec — For the last 11 years the villagers of Yasouf were denied entry to their land next to the road by Za‘tara checkpoint. This land used to provide the village with much of what was needed in terms of vegetables. Over the last week they have successfully worked some of this land, but not without harassment. On Wednesday, when the villagers first attempted to plant corn in their fields, inhabitants of the nearby Israeli settlement, Tappuah, disrupted this attempt and drove the residents of Yasouf away. Later, in the night, settlers also uprooted 12 trees on the other side of the village, belonging to a farmer who has been targeted violently three times in recent years. The villagers returned on Sunday more determined to work their land and, again, were confronted with a crowd of approximately 50 settlers. The village elders managed to negotiate the right to remain on this land with the Israeli military. The group of Israeli settlers, not content with disrupting much of a day’s work, went on to burn a tree and destroy wheat fields on the opposite side of the village.
Jewish settlers destroy citizens’ property in Nablus village
NABLUS (PIC) 30 Dec — Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian citizens in Azmut village, east of Nablus, and destroyed their property on Saturday. One of the inhabitants of the village, Murad Amer, said that the settlers prevented workers from building a room for guards to watch for their land in the village. He added that the settlers assaulted the workers, forced them out of the place and destroyed the construction materials
Witnesses: Israel arrests member of PA security forces
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Israeli forces made multiple arrests overnight in the West Bank, including a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces, locals said. Witnesses said Muhammad Gamal al-Tal, 19, was arrested in the Hebron village of al-Dhahiriya by Israeli forces after a raid on his home. Al-Tal is a member of the PA’s presidential guard, locals said.
An Israeli army spokesman said five people were arrested overnight, with one in al-Dhahiriya and four in Beit Awa, Hebron.
Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 31 Dec – Israeli forces raided the northern West Bank village of Beita and detained two young men early Monday morning. Locals told Ma‘an that five Israeli military vehicles stormed the village around 1:30 a.m. They ransacked several homes before detaining 20-year-old Mujahid Fayiz Bani Shamsa and 20-year-old Yasser Fawzi Shamsa.
A day earlier, two Palestinians were detained in nearby Einabus village after Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli cars in the area. Beita and Einabus lie south of Nablus, near the central highway route 60, and adjacent to two Israeli settlements.
Ahrar Center: 3,784 arrests in 2012
NABLUS (PIC) 1 Jan — Ahrar center for human rights and prisoners studies stated, in its annual report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, that there were 3,784 arrests across the West Bank and Gaza strip in 2012. November was the month with highest number of arrests due to the demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza all over the West Bank. The clashes between the demonstrators and the army were in every city. The number of arrests in November was 621, while August was the month with the least arrests. The Center said that al-Khalil [Hebron] has witnessed the highest level of arrests. Nablus was next followed by Ramallah, according to the statement.
Report: The IOF rejailed 12 Palestinian MPs last year
GAZA (PIC) 1 Jan — The international campaign for freeing kidnapped Palestinian MPs said the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) re-kidnapped 12 Palestinian lawmakers from Hamas during the past year 2012. In a statistical report, the international campaign stated that the IOF, during the past year, rejailed 12 MPs from Hamas after it had previously released them, set free nine others, issued 27 administrative sentences against them and raided their homes and offices 10 times.
The second half of 2012: more demolitions, arrests, and attacks against the citizens of Jerusalem
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 2 Jan – …More than 350 citizens were arrested, among them dozens of children – Both full arrests and house arrests function as a tool for the occupation used to break the will of the Jerusalem citizens to resist against its oppression. These arrests are often directed at children aged of 16 years old and less. These children are often interrogated in an aggressive and frightening way, and are often sentenced to house arrests and forced to pay financial fines, all of which affects their emotional condition and limits their freedom. Over the last 6 months more than 350 citizens from Jerusalem (including youth, children and women) were arrested and interrogated, and a few were held for hours. These minors come from all areas from Jerusalem, mostly from Silwan and Al Essawiye, then from the Shuafat refugee camp, the old city, al-Sawane and Bet Hanina.There is an average of almost 60 arrests per month, or two arrests per day. Among those arrested were 13 females, a few of them minors. Four of them were given long arrest extensions, two were accused of stabbing a soldier and one is still under arrest until today. A few of the arrested citizens were arrested more than once in the same month, and most of the citizens were released after paying the bail money (between 500 NIS to 2,000 NIS). After being released, most are sentenced to house arrests.
24 house demolitions, 7 of them were “Self-Demolished” [following is a list of the houses demolished and their owners]
December: Army kidnapped 88, including 12 children, 18 patients in Hebron
IMEMC 31 Dec — The PPS said that the Israeli army conducted numerous violations against the kidnapped Palestinians, including firing rounds of live ammunition in the course of their arrest, physically assaulted the residents, including beating them, kicking them, striking them with rifles and batons, an issue that led to serious injuries. The soldiers broke into and violently searched dozens of homes causing extensive damage, forced entire families into one room while searching their property, and in many cases forced them out of their homes, physically and verbally abused the families while searching their property and kidnapping their sons.
Three hunger striking captives boycott the prison clinic
JENIN (PIC) 1 Jan — The hunger striking prisoners from Jenin; Tarek Kaadan, Jafar Ezzeddine and Youssef Shaaban, launched escalatory steps in Megiddo prison and started refusing to go to and take medicines from the prison clinic. Mohjat al-Quds Foundation said in a statement on Monday: “The three prisoners told the prison administration that they refuse to go to the clinic and demanded to be transferred to Ramla prison hospital, otherwise they will take more protest steps such as: abstaining from drinking water.” The three prisoners confirmed that they will continue their hunger strike which they have launched 35 day ago
MP Ramahi appeals his administrative custody
RAMALLAH (PIC) 31 Dec — Secretary of the Palestinian legislative council Dr. Mohammed Al-Ramahi has appealed the Israeli six months administrative detention sentence against him. Sources at the PLC change and reform bloc said that the Ofer military court would look into the appeal on Monday. They said that the court would re-consider the “oppressive” sentence against Ramahi, which was passed on 29/11/2012. The Israeli occupation forces arrested MP Ramahi on 23/11/2012 less than four months after his release from occupation jails where he served 20 months administrative detention without charge or trial.
IOF troops raid southern Gaza in fresh violation of calm
RAFAH (PIC) 31 Dec — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) infiltrated into eastern Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on Monday in a fresh violation of the calm agreement. Local sources said that IOF troops escorted six bulldozers into the outskirts of Nahda suburb to the east of Rafah and started bulldozing the area. They said that IOF tanks and a truck loaded with iron boxes were also heading to the area, noting that reconnaissance flights were seen flying over the area.
In another incident, Israeli warplanes were seen hovering over the Gaza Strip last night in an unprecedented manner raising fears of possible raids in violation of the calm. Quds Press reported that a number of F16s were flying over the Strip and focused on the southwestern areas of Gaza city.
Palestinian official: Israel promises to further ease Gaza blockade if Hamas truce holds
GAZA (Reuters) 31 Dec — GAZA – A Palestinian official said Sunday that Israel has promised to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow building items in more often if Hamas maintains the Egyptian-brokered truce that brought an end to last month’s conflict. Speaking after Israel eased its blockade to allow a shipment of gravel for private construction into the Palestinian territory for the first time since Hamas seized control in 2007, the Palestinian official said Israeli counterparts had promised “other building items” would be allowed into Gaza in the coming days. “Israel has promised to ease the blockade more if the truce continues to hold,” he said. Another Palestinian official with knowledge of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that ended the eight days of fighting last month between Israel and Gaza militants said the move had been expected as part of the deal.
Fatah’s 48th anniversary
Fatah anniversary celebrations begin in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Marches announcing the beginning of Fatah’s 48th anniversary celebrations began in Gaza on Monday. Cars and motorbikes were seen carrying Palestinian and Fatah flags in the Gaza Strip, with PA official Ahmad Olwan saying celebratory events will start Monday evening. Fatah will hold its 48th anniversary celebrations in al-Saraya square, Gaza City on January 4. It will be the first time that Hamas has allowed Fatah to hold such events since seizing the coastal enclave from the secular faction in 2007. Fatah also permitted a Hamas anniversary rally in the West Bank earlier this month for the first time in six years.
Thousands celebrate Fatah anniversary in Bethlehem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — Fatah’s anniversary celebrations began in Bethlehem on Monday, with senior officials addressing crowds in the city’s Manger Square. Thousands of people from Hebron and Bethlehem took part in the celebrations, with Fatah officials Saeb Erekat, Jamal Muheisin, head of intelligence Majed Faraj and other political personalities taking part. Addressing the crowd, Erekat said despite the US pressure on Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas, the party would press on with its struggle for a liberated Palestine.
Political / Economic developments
Abbas sees Palestinian state in 2013
AFP 31 Dec — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pledged on Monday that the coming year would see the implementation of Palestinian independence. Lighting a torch in the grounds of his West Bank headquarters to start celebration of the the 48th anniversary of his Fatah movement he spoke of last month’s historic United Nations vote upgrading the Palestinians’ diplomatic standing, referring to it as the “birth certificate” of a Palestinian state.
Peres: ‘Abbas is Israel’s peace partner’
IMEMC/Agencies 31 Dec — Israeli President, Shimon Peres, stated Sunday that Israel has a partner in the “peace process”, and that this partner is Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas; Peres warned that the lack of an agreement with the Palestinians “threatens the Zionist project”, and the “Jewish nature of Israel”.
Man tries to set himself on fire during electricity protest
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — A man from Balata refugee camp in Nablus attempted to set himself alight on Monday in protest against recently announced measures that will no longer exempt refugees from paying electricity costs … Crowds of onlookers intervened before he could light the fuel, taking him away from the protest area to calm down. Alifeh reportedly suffers from psychological conditions and has been struggling to support a family of five … Palestinian power companies said the gap in payments from refugees was a main reason for their accumulating debts.
Electricity company protests debt amnesty for refugees
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — An electricity company in the northern West Bank went on strike on Monday in protest against the terms of a deal which would see refugees in the West Bank start paying for electricity usage … One of the eleven terms of the deal states that all accumulated debts from refugee camp electricity bills will be canceled, which Arafat described as an unacceptable reward to those who refused to pay for electricity usage. “The agreement is a reward to subscribers who were not paying their bills at the expense of those who have been paying regularly,” he said, stating that the majority of refugees in the Nablus and Jenin districts had been paying their bills.
PA employees to strike this week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 30 Dec — Employees of the Palestinian Authority government will strike for two days this week, in a continuation of protests against delays in salary payments. The public sector union said Sunday it would suspend work on Wednesday and Thursday. They will then decide on the program for the following week. Government employees in the West Bank received part of their November salaries last week, but the remainder is still outstanding.
Algeria transfers $26 million to alleviate PA’s financial crisis
CAIRO (WAFA) 1 Jan – Algeria transferred $26 million to the Palestinian Authority to help it solve part of its severe financial crisis, deputy Arab League secretary-general Ahmed Ben Helli said Tuesday … Ben Helli said Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby has sent urgent letters calling on Arab governments to speed up the implementation of the monthly $100 million safety net agreed on in the Baghdad summit to help the PA overcome its financial crisis that led to PA’s inability to pay salaries for its employees.
Israeli High Court overturns Zoabi ban
IMEMC 31 Dec — The Israeli High Court has overturned on Sunday the ban of Haneen Zoabi of the Balad Party from running for re-election to her position in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Zoabi, a Palestinian who has Israeli citizenship, was banned from running in the upcoming elections by the Elections Committee predominantly due to her participation in the 2010 “Freedom Flotilla.”
PCBS: Palestinian population reaches 11.6 million in 2012
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 31 Dec — The population of Palestinians around the world totaled 11.6 million in 2012, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said. Based on the latest population projections, the bureau said 4.4 million Palestinians reside inside Palestine, 1.4 million in Israel, 5.5 million in Arab countries, and 655,000 in other states. In Palestine, 2.7 million reside in the West Bank and 1.7 million in Gaza Strip. Of them, 44.2 percent are refugees. The average household size in Palestine is 5.6 persons in 2012 compared with 6.4 in 1997, PCBS said, noting a drop in birth rates over the past decade. Full Report
Erdogan meets Palestinian girl who cursed soldiers
PNN from Ynet 31 Dec — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had breakfast with Palestinian girl Waad Tamimi, who confronted Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh last November. The provocation, led by 13-year-old Tamimi and her family, and the accompanying video, turned her into a Palestinian heroine. Erdogan met Tamimi and her mother Nariman in a Turkish hotel in Sanliurfa region on Sunday. The Turkish news agency Anatolia reported that he talked with the two and gave them a few gifts. Later, young Tamimi said that this was the first time she had breakfast with a prime minister.
Egypt says detained Israeli was trying to reach Gaza
Ynet 31 Dec — Foreign Ministry confirms Andre Pshenichnikov, 24, was arrested by Egyptian police Friday; Egyptian officials say he was trying to enter Gaza to fight alongside Palestinians … The mother told Ynet that her son, a computer technician, was living with her and her husband in Bat Yam. She claimed he was an “activist for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which is very dangerous…” … Svetlana added that Andre had previously moved to Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem in an attempt to prove that Israelis and Palestinians can coexist.
Israeli Racism / Discrimination
VIDEO: Girl who spat on MK Tibi: He deserves death sentence
Ynet 31 Dec – The girl who spat at Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) following a political debate at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday said she would “not do anything differently” and outlined the extreme rightist doctrine that guided her. “Maybe it’s not politically correct and may seem a bit disgusting, but some people deserve it,” she told Ynet on Monday after a video of the incident was released. “(Tibi) should say thank you; he deserves much worse; he deserves a death sentence. There have to be people who give the enemies of Israel what they deserve.” The girl, who is familiar to the Hilltop Youth in the West Bank, has participated in various activities against African infiltrators and the evacuation of settler outposts.
Teenage girl says she was stoned by haredi boys
Ynet 2 Jan — M., a teenage girl, was attacked by a group of young yeshiva students on a Ganey Tikva street on Sunday. According to the teen, the reason was her physical appearance, which alludes to her sexual orientation. [short hair=lesbian, apparently] M, 17, was walking down the street in the central Israeli city – a route she said she has been taking regularly over the past two years – when she was mobbed and assaulted.
Analysis / Opinion
In Israel, freedom of information comes at a price / Amira Hass
Haaretz 31 Dec — An NGO’s effort to learn about the government’s treatment of Palestinian families in Jerusalem involved months of foot-dragging and a NIS 2,000 bill — If it often seems that official spokesmen are making a mockery of us journalists when they reply in one noncommittal sentence, lacking any information, now comes the request by Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual to receive information about family reunification in East Jerusalem, to show that there are several ways for government offices to exhibit mockery. For example: to demand an exorbitant price for the information, which is against the law. However, with a lot of patience, time, phone calls, correspondence, professional skill and basic commitment, there is a chance of silencing the mockery and getting the information … If Hamoked is requesting a large number of details, that’s because the Israeli bureaucracy has created miles of red tape to prevent Palestinians from exercising their right to raise a family in their hometown of Jerusalem. The center needs the information to continue to fight on behalf of families from whom Israel withholds that self-evident right.
Season of Palestinian threats / Amira Hass
Haaretz 2 Jan — Over the past few weeks, Palestinian spokesmen have made three main promises that would shake up and disrupt the violent complacency with which Israel continues to dominate the Palestinians … Three main promises were given by official Palestinian spokesmen over the past few weeks. Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub told the Israeli press that attacks by settlers would no longer be allowed to pass without a Palestinian response. Another promise was that with the United Nations having upgraded their status to that of a nonmember observer state, Palestinians will now turn to the International Criminal Court. Finally, there was the promise/warning issued by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Haaretz journalist Barak Ravid last week: that if the diplomatic impasse continues after the Israeli election, he will dismantle the PA and return responsibility for the West Bank to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
There is one clear, sincere message behind all these promises: Palestinian leaders are truly worried by the blindness of Israeli society, which is certain that the dual regime that has been established between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – one state for the Jews, many enclaves for the Palestinians – will persist for a Biblical eternity. But is there planning and practical action beyond the worried messages and declarations? Here is where doubt sets in.
Will 2013 be the year American Jews secede from Israel? / Bradley Burston
Haaretz 1 Jan — One day in the future, when it all comes horribly down, will Israelis finally realize that there were warning signs all along? More to the point of the ultimate survival of Israel, could it be that when the real alarm sounds, when the genuine danger impends, Israelis won’t hear a thing? The answers may lie in how Israelis react to the canary in the coal mine, their forward recon unit in the world, the American Jewish community. In fact, as the new year dawns, there are mounting signs that 2013 may be the year in which U.S. Jews – in the main, liberal in outlook, committed to tolerance, pluralism, and a vigorous, sincere pursuit of peace – effectively secede from this state of Israel. They remain committed to supporting the existence of an Israel which balances Israeli and Jewish culture with respect for minority rights, democratic values. They will stay active in promoting the welfare of Israel’s disadvantaged. But many American Jews are already distancing themselves in word and deed from a government it sees as arrogant and short-sighted, enslaved to a runaway train of settlement, dismissive of the rights of Palestinians and other non-Jews, cold to the concerns of a sinking middle class and the drowning disadvantaged, contemptuous of the concerns of the larger Jewish world.
Where are they now? / Maverick former MK explains why Soviet immigrants really are racist
Haaretz 31 Dec — Roman Bronfman used to represent Russian-speaking olim in the Knesset. In a new book he explores their ‘negative political impact’ on Israel … In a new book, Bronfman looks at why most of his fellow olim from the former Soviet Union have adopted positions that are not merely rightwing but what he calls “a recipe for fascism.” “A Million Who Changed the Middle East: The Soviet Aliyah and Israel,” co-written with former Haaretz journalist Lily Galili and published (in Hebrew) by Matar Publishing this month, examines the effects of the immigration on Israeli society and Israeli society’s impact on the olim … The book, which he researched for three years, addresses, among other issues, what has become a hotly debated question: Are the immigrants from the Former Soviet Union racist? The short answer, argues Bronfman, is yes — absolutely …”What characterizes the Soviet aliyah is its belief in the use of force to expand territory and a xenophobic way of seeing our neighbors. It’s a mentality that divides the world into them and us.” Many immigrants, who had little knowledge of Jewish religion, acquired another trait in Israel. “When they encountered the concept of the ‘‘chosen people,’ they interpreted it simplistically — not as a description of the Jews’ connection to the Torah — but as a kind of national superiority” that easily morphs into racism, asserts Bronfman. http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/where-are-they-now/where-are-they-now-maverick-former-mk-explains-why-soviet-immigrants-really-are-racist.premium-1.490981