Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Final court hearing held on Cremisan Valley case
Society of St. Yves/PNN 15 Feb — On Tuesday, 12th of February 2013, the final hearing for the case of the Cremisan Valley against the Separation Wall was held in front of the Special Appeals Committee in the Magistrate Court in Tel Aviv. Advocate Manal Hazzan-Abu Sinni from the Society of St. Yves on behalf of the Salesian Nuns Convent and Advocate Ghiath Nasser on behalf of the land owners gave their closing arguments in a session lasting seven hours … The courtroom was crowded due to the importance of the case. Auxiliary Bishop and Vicar General of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, William Al-Shomali, Beit Jala’s Parish Priest, Father Ibrahim Shomali, and Beit Jala’s Mayor Dr. Nael Salman came to observe the proceedings. Further representatives of the German and French Embassies and other organizations including UNRWA, CIDSE, Kairos Palestine and the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem (ARIJ) were in the audience, as well as journalists … The session ended with no decision by the court. A decision will be issued after the committee completes a review of all the documents from this case, which has lasted seven years.
Occupation seizes a hotel in Abu Dis
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Feb — Lawyer Bassam Bahr, head of the Committee for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlement in Abu Dis, said that the Israeli Minister of Finance issued a decision to seize a hotel built over an area of 2900 m, under the pretext of “public interest and security purposes.” The occupation bulldozers began working in the hotel’s land and the adjacent lands and uprooting the trees with the aim of completing the construction of separation wall in this region that separates the town of Abu Dis from occupied Jerusalem. The hotel property is the only area where the separation wall that cuts off Abu Dis from east Jerusalem is not completed.
Haaretz editorial: Invisible neighbors
17 Feb — The 60 Hawaled clan members living near Nofit are threatening the “Jewish character” of that Lower Galilee community of 2,500. At least, that’s what the two slates that ran a few weeks ago for the committee governing the community said of their Bedouin neighbors, as they vied to prove who would better protect the area’s character. That sense of threat, fueled by racism and fear, led a good many of Nofit’s residents to oppose a plan that would have solved the housing problem of the Hawaled clan, which since Turkish times has owned the land on which it lives. For most of the residents of Nofit, the members of the Hawaled clan are invisible. Their cluster of shacks is reached via Nofit’s access road, which thousands of residents drive daily, and yet only a few have ever visited the area or are even aware of the conditions there … But there are a few in Nofit who will not give in to hatred and the desire of others to get rid of their Bedouin neighbors.
Israel to return West Bank farmland to Palestinian owners after wrongly allocating land to kibbutz
Haaretz 18 Feb by Amira Hass — Israel is slated to return some 1,200 dunams (300 acres) of farmland in the northern Jordan Valley to its Palestinian owners, following the Israel Lands Administration’s admission it had mistakenly assigned the land to Kibbutz Merav, which is within the Green Line. The ILA admitted the 30-year-old error last week in a letter to attorney Tawfiq Jabarin, who is representing the landowners. But it turns out that already in January 2012, the ILA had informed the kibbutz of the problem and told kibbutz officials that the land was no longer theirs. Nevertheless, the kibbutz is still cultivating the land … This is the only known case of such a mistake being made. Over the years, Israel, under various pretexts, has seized control of around 20,000 dunams of privately owned Palestinian land and transferred it to settlements for agricultural use. But in October 2011, Dror Etkes, who researches Israeli land takeover in the West Bank, discovered that this plot of land, located in what is called the Ka’oun plain, was being cultivated by a kibbutz within the Green Line
Confrontation erupts in Jaffa during attempts to demolish Arab houses
MEMO 15 Feb — On Thursday morning, large numbers of Israeli police and members of other units specialized in supporting the bulldozers of the so-called Land of Israel Department, began to carry out the task of demolishing houses in the city of Jaffa. The bulldozers stormed Pardes Abu Seif while Israeli police forces blocked the roads and kept the population away from the area in order to facilitate the demolition process. Dozens of Arab residents flocked to the site to try to prevent implementation of the demolition process. Confrontations ensued which began with a fistfight between youths and police who attacked the civilians and arrested some of them.
Jerusalem’s refugee camp: Abandoned by the state
972blog 17 Feb by Chen Misgav — Although the Shuafat refugee camp is under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality, one look at the lack of basic infrastructure, the sewage running in the streets and the unsafe conditions reveal that it is part of a different world … Shuafat is the only refugee camp within Jerusalem’s municipal territory. Thus, those who live there are Israeli residents who carry blue Israeli IDs and have freedom of movement and occupation within Jerusalem and Israel. At the same time, the Israeli government has erected a giant cement wall that completely encircles the camp, turning it into a secluded island. Furthermore, the government has closed all the access roads that lead in and out of the camp and erected a checkpoint at the main entrance, forcing every resident to pass through it while entering or exiting.
A mosque left to die
Haaretz 17 Feb by Oudeh Basharat — A mosque wall collapsed in the deserted Palestinian village Ma‘alul [6 km W of Nazareth] two winters ago, and when the descendants of the village’s former inhabitants rushed to repair the damage, they were prevented from continuing with their work. A police file was even opened against Ali As-Salih, the chairman of the Ma‘alul Heritage Association.
Thousands of miles away, ISCAR Metalworking founder and Israeli tycoon Stef Wertheimer embarked a trip to rediscover his roots in Kippenheim, Germany. As he explains in his book “Ish L’yad Mekhona“ (“Man at a Machine”), he found his hometown’s synagogue had been turned into “rain storage for pigs.” … After a relentless 12-year struggle, and with the help of pressure generated by young Germans, “whose feelings of guilt apparently still motivated them,” the building was cleaned, renovated and registered as memorial site.
Unfortunately for the Ma‘alul mosque, it is located in an area under the jurisdiction of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council. The regional council also inherited the holy places on this land, but instead of preserving them, it prevents representatives of the legitimate heirs who live nearby from carrying out maintenance work. Arabs well-schooled in suffering speak of this type of insensitivity: “The rock of the al-Haram does not forgive and in time precludes you from Allah’s mercy,” Palestinian writer Emile Habibi wrote
Sweeping the West Bank and Jerusalem
Mondoweiss 15 Feb by Annie Robbins — Acceleration of demolition orders, home destructions sweeping East Jerusalem and the West Bank — A visit to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan brings forth numerous videos of home demolitions, for instance this horrible scene, as well as reports about the Municipality of Jerusalem accompanying Israeli forces raiding houses and handing out demolition warrants. The same pattern was evident weeks before in Isawiya in north Jerusalem. And as we’ve reported earlier, sometimes residents are given just 10 minutes to evacuate. The Palestinian News Network reported the Palestinian Council of Ministers met on February 5th to discuss land confiscation as part of a “campaign of incitement and provocation” surrounding East Jerusalem, Southern Jerusalem and Hebron. Among the provocations: an Israeli plan to build a new university campus near Jerusalem and 346 new housing units in Hebron. The Arab League has accused Israel of systematic land grab and said that the conduct “requires intervention by the world community.”
Looting by IDF soldiers: ‘But on the spoil, laid they not their hand’
972blog 16 Feb by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — The occupation has made us accustomed to things we never thought we’d get used to. This, basically, is the meaning of the weary expression “the occupation corrupts.” News that an IDF soldier is suspected of looting was met by the Israeli media with silence. We’re getting used to looting too, it seems … After many years of violent conflict, most Israelis have hardened their hearts to the point that they will effortlessly make excuses for just about anything mentioned here. Taking children outside, on a freezing morning, without coats? Who knows what they were hiding in those coats. Leaving a sick, terrified infant without her mother? We can’t know what they would cook up together. Pushing a woman who is old enough to be their mother, until she falls? Well, it’s a stressful situation, the soldiers were stressed. Who knows what danger they were in. Don’t judge them until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Assaulting F. with a rifle butt as she was returning home? Look, she went there despite the orders she received, and if we allow just anyone to do that we’d be in danger. The arrest of the son? Surely you don’t suggest they arrest people for no reason. But here, the excuses end. There are very few people who would be willing to defend the breaking of windows or the destruction of computers … So, too, in the case of looting.
Violence / Incursions / Harassment / Suppression of nonviolent protests / Illegal arrests
Demonstrators open Hagai road gate for first time in decade
[photos] ISM 15 Feb by ‘Team Khalil’ — A peaceful demonstration was violently broken up by the Israeli occupation forces using tear gas grenades and canisters, and skunk water. Road opened for the first time in 13 years — At 1pm around 100 Palestinians marched towards the Hagai road gate in the Al Hareaq area of Hebron. The demonstrators surprised the Israeli army who did not appear to be prepared for the demo, having to bring in reinforcements to the scene. The demonstrators gathered beyond the gate on the side facing the illegal Israeli settlement of Hagai. There was a tense atmosphere as the demonstrators chanted and vented their anger at the illegal road closure. Demonstrators started to dismantle the road gate taking parts of the gate away with them, they then pulled a chain out from within the gate and forced it open. People cheered and danced as this is the first time the road has been opened since it was closed by the Israeli military in 2000….
Collaboration between IDF, settlers reaching point of no return
972blog 17 Feb by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — Israeli democracy is being severely compromised by the army’s collaboration with the settlers, and the fact that more and more Israeli citizens now see the occupation as the natural order of things — The following complaint was received from M., a resident of a village near Qalqiliya: “Last night, at about 7:30 p.m., we were all in the house. Suddenly I heard a noise outside, including the engine sound of a military vehicle. We didn’t leave the house and I looked through the window. I saw a military jeep parked west of the house, some 150 meters down the road towards the town center. I also saw a large group of settlers moving on the road bordering my house. A military jeep was driving before the mass of settlers, with another jeep behind them. The sun had already set, but I could see what was going outside because there is a lamppost outside my house. The lights of the jeeps were on, and some of the settlers were carrying flashlights. Suddenly we heard stones hitting the house, the greenhouse and the courtyard. Luckily, all the windows of the house are covered, so no stones went in. “The soldiers remained inside their jeeps during the entire event. The stoning went on for about 10 minutes. When the settlers passed the house, I think there were some 200 men and women there, they shouted “Dirty Arabs,” “Go to Saudi Arabia,” “Death to Arabs.”
12-year-old boy beaten by soldiers in Azzun
ISM posted 16 Feb by ‘Team Khalil’ — ‘Azzun is a village of 10,000 people in the West Bank, located near Route 55 and located between the Qarne Shomron, Ma’ale Shomeron and Alfe Menashe settlements. Unemployment stands at 49%. ‘Azzun is surrounded by the Israeli military, which raids the village arresting youths almost every night. The village suffers from the Israeli Total Punishment policy, where villagers cannot access work outside ‘Azzun and are specifically targeted for harassment by the Israeli military for detainment at check points. In 2012, there were 80 arrests, 98% of which were under 16 years of age. In the last six weeks, there have been 28 arrests. Sentences for stone throwing can range from between 8 to 14 years. On February 10, between ten and twelve settlers, with an Israeli military escort, assaulted the eastern section of the village, using stones, tear gas and rubber bullets. On February 12 at 2AM, the Israeli military raided the village, arresting 5 youths. The youngest of which was only 12 years old and, as a result of being beaten by soldiers, is in shock and cannot speak or stand.
Stranded in Shuhada: Hebron’s Qurtuba school
Hebron (Ma‘an) 15 Feb by Salam Muharam — Children and teachers at Qurtuba school in Hebron say getting to class past Israeli soldiers and settlers is like navigating a minefield every day. The school, for children aged 7 to 16, is adjacent to the illegal Jewish settlement of Beit Hadassah in the center of the West Bank city. Israeli forces fenced off the school’s stairs with barbed wire in 2002. Now the only route to the school is a muddy path up a steep hill. Some pupils live beside the school, but have to walk two kilometers around a circuit to reach the entrance, Najah Abu Munshar, a teacher in the school told Ma‘an. Across the street from the school, “Gas the Arabs” has been scrawled on a door. Next to the school gates, a mural of a girl holding a book, painted by a French activist, has been covered by racist graffiti. A gallery in a school corridor shows photos of Israeli soldiers and settlers assaulting students. International volunteers escort children to and from school as a protective measure, but pupils and teachers are still frequently harassed and assaulted on their way to the school, which has been vandalized and set on fire … Teachers must also pass an Israeli checkpoint and metal detectors to get to work, and Israeli soldiers decide whether to let them pass each day … Najah Abu Munshar has taught at Qurtaba school for 15 years. “The settlers used to let their dogs attack the students, and when settlers attack a student, I try my best to calm him or her down, and if he or she has any wounds, I provide first aid,” she told Ma‘an.
Israeli police arrest Jerusalem resident over call for strike
PNN 15 Feb — On Thursday 14th February, Israeli police arrested a Palestinian resident of the southern East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa believed related to his call for a strike in the schools to protest opening of a road in the Arab neighborhood, according to a family member. Abdul Karim Lafi, an architect and chairman of the parents committee in Beit Safafa, was arrested under the pretext of calling for a strike in Beit Safafa schools to protest the construction of road number 4 that will take 250 dunums of private land the West Jerusalem municipality wants to build to link illegal settlements with the center of Jerusalem.
Soldiers kidnap 26 Palestinians, mainly children, in West Bank, 2 in Gaza
IMEMC 16 Feb — … The sources said that Israel soldiers invaded Beit Fajjar town, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, and kidnapped five Palestinian youths …
Also, soldiers kidnapped four Palestinian youth near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and claimed that they carried a weapon, the Maan News Agency reported. Maan also reported that two more Palestinians were kidnapped near Etzion Israeli settlement, south of Bethlehem, after the army claimed they “attempted to open fire at the settlement”.
Furthermore, the Palestinian Information Center reported that the army kidnapped and detained more than 15 Palestinian youths during a protest that was held, Friday, near the Al-Jalama Israeli roadblock, in the Jenin District, as they marched, along with dozens of Palestinians in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel.
On Friday at night, at least 50 Palestinians were treated for the effects of teargas inhalation during clashes that took place after the army invaded Ya’bod town near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and during clashes that took place at the Al-Jalama roadblock, north of Jenin. The soldiers chased dozens of Palestinian youths, and kidnapped Rashed Al-Ahmad, 20, after ramming him with their jeep. They also hassled a wheelchair-bound Palestinian in the Jenin refugee camp.
Several Palestinians have been injured, including an 18-year old Palestinian identified as Abed As-Sanoury, who was hit in the mouth by a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by the army. Another youth identified a Laith Qasrawy was also injured; both were moved to a local hospital in Jenin … Local sources reported that the army harassed and assaulted several youths leading to violent clashes. Local youths hurled stones and empty bottles at the soldiers who fired a barrage of gas bombs, rubber-coated metal bullets, and concussion grenades; several sounds of live ammunition were also fired by the soldiers.
Israel arrests 3 Palestinians across West Bank, takes over house
WEST BANK (WAFA) 17 Feb –Israeli forces arrested early Sunday two Palestinians in Al-Issawiya town, near Jerusalem, and a third in Sourif, near Hebron, and took over a house in Jenin, according to local and security sources.
One of the two arrested in Al-Issawiya is Shadi Al-Issawi, 28, a younger brother of Samer Al-Issawi, the Palestinian prisoner in Israeli prisons who is on an ongoing open hunger strike for more than 209 days in a row till this day, said witnesses.
Security sources told WAFA Israeli forces arrested Rizik Khalil, 28, from the town of Sourif, near Hebron, after searching his house and tampering with its contents.
Israel detains Palestinian cartoonist
JENIN (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Israeli authorities on Saturday detained a Palestinian cartoonist on his way back to the West Bank from Jordan, according to his family. Muhammad Abdul-Ghani Sabanah, 30, was detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and the West Bank, his brother Tamir told Ma‘an, adding that Sabanah was in Jordan for a meeting. He said that on his way back, Israeli troops detained Sabanah, who is from the Jenin town of Qabatia, without giving any explanation. Sabanah’s cartoons are widespread in the Arab world. He is well-known for his criticism through his cartoons, which focus mainly on the Palestinian people’s problems and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He works as a public information officer at the Arab American University in Jenin.
Israeli forces seize 5 teens from Beit Fajjar
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Israeli forces detained five teenagers from Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, overnight Friday, and the army said they were held for involvement in a shooting. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the town three times between 10:30 p.m. and dawn Saturday. Khalid Tareq Takatkah 16, Farhan Hussam Qawasmeh, 15, were first arrested, and an hour later Mohammad Naseem Takatkah, 16, was seized. In that raid, soldiers clashed with residents, firing tear gas and sound grenades, residents said. Then at dawn, forces returned detained two others, Nour Ibrahim Thawabteh, 14, and Muhammad Jihad Takatkah, 14.
Witnesses: Israeli forces seize Jenin property to use as military post
JENIN (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Israeli forces on Sunday seized an under-construction property in Jenin (WAFA: Ya‘bad) to use as a temporary military post, the second such incident in a week, locals said. The home belongs to Sami Abu Baker, who told Ma‘an that Israeli soldiers arrived at the property late Saturday. Last week, soldiers took over the property for 48 hours to use as a temporary military post, before vacating the premises, he added.
Israeli intelligence ‘summons Jenin villagers for questioning’
JENIN (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Israeli forces on Friday issued orders to four Palestinians in Sanour village in the northern West Bank summoning them for questioning by Israeli intelligence, locals said. Residents of Sanour, south of Jenin, said soldiers raided several homes in the village, accompanied by an Israeli intelligence officer who interrogated a number of people.
IOF arrests an activist in the Islamic bloc in Khadouri
JENIN (PIC) 1 Feb — Israeli occupation forces arrested on Thursday evening a student at Palestine Technical University in Tulkarem, Oways Mazen Nwahdha, 23, at a military checkpoint on the road to ‘Arraba, south of Jenin. Local sources said that the young man was arrested on his return from the city of Tulkarem to his hometown of Yamoun in Jenin, when he was stopped at the checkpoint and was arrested then taken to an unknown destination. The arrest of Nwahdha comes in the framework of a broad campaign of arrests recently launched by the occupation forces against cadres, activists and supporters of the Islamic bloc at Palestine Technical University “Khadouri”. The IOF have already arrested nine activists of the Islamic bloc in two days.
7 Jerusalemites arrested during clashes south of al-Aqsa mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 15 Feb — Violent clashes have erupted in Silwan town south of al-Aqsa Mosque between the Israeli occupation forces last night following the arrest of seven Jerusalemites during clashes in the neighborhood of Bir Ayyub in the town. The Israeli occupation forces have stormed the neighborhood and raided and searched 4 houses, where they assaulted three women, causing horror and panic among children, eyewitnesses told PIC reporter.
Report: Palestinians detained with hunting rifle
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians near the illegal settlement of Binyamin after finding a hunting rifle in their car, Israeli media reported Friday. Israel’s Ynet news site said the four were transferred for questioning at Benyamin police station. [To carry a weapon you have to be a settler, apparently]
Prisoners / Hunger strikers
Letter from Palestinian prisoner Samer al-Issawi: There is no going back because I’m the owner of Right
16 Feb — The following letter (in Arabic) was published today on Shirin Issawi’s Page in Facebook. Letter from prisoner Samer al-Issawi as it came from the Ministry of prisoners: I turn with admiration to the masses of our heroic Palestinian people, to our Palestinian leadership, to all forces, parties and national institutions. I salute them for standing by our fight to defend our right to freedom and dignity. I draw my strength from my people, from all the free people in the world, from friends and the families of the prisoners who continue day and night chanting for freedom and an end to the occupation … I say to my people: I’m stronger than the occupation army and its racist laws. I, Samer al-Issawi, son of Jerusalem, send you my last will that, in case I fell as a martyr, you will carry my soul as a cry for all the prisoners, man and women, cry for freedom, emancipation and salvation from the nightmare of prisons and their harsh darkness. My battle is not only for individual freedom. The battle waged by me and by my heroic colleagues, Tariq, Ayman and Ja‘affar, is everyone’s battle, the battle of the Palestinian people against the occupation and its prisons. Our goal is to be free and sovereign in our liberated state and in our blessed Jerusalem….
Over 1000 protest at Ofer prison in support of Palestinian hunger strikers
[photos] Popular Struggle Coordination Committee 15 Feb — …Two protesters were injured from live ammunition in addition to dozens from rubber coated bullets during the clashes erupted after the Friday Prayer in front of Ofer prison. Over a thousand Palestinians took part today in the Friday prayer and protest which was organized by the Popular Committees, titled “Friday of breaking the silence” in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Samer Isawi, Ayman Sharawneh, Tareq Qa’adan and Jafar Iz Eldin. Protesters called for their release and the release of all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
40 injured in Biddu village near Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 17 Feb — Saturday February 16; Palestinian sources reported that 40 Palestinians have been injured during clashes that took place when the army attacked Palestinians hold a protest in solidarity with hunger striking detainees, in the village of Biddu, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem. The clashes took place in an area close to the Hadashta illegal Israeli settlement, built on privately owned Palestinian lands, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported. The residents were marching in support of all hunger striking detainees held by Israel, especially detainee Samer Al-Eesawy, who started his strike 209 days ago, and is in facing very serious health complications. The army attacked the protesters by firing gas bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at them leading to 40 injuries.
Mother of prisoner launches solidarity hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — The mother of Ayman Sharawna has begun an open-ended hunger strike to show solidarity with her son, a prisoners group said Sunday. Addameer said that Sharawna’s brother has also announced strike action to demonstrate solidarity with Ayman, who was released under the 2011 prisoner swap deal but rearrested shortly after and held without charge ever since.
Sheikh Salah: ‘Jerusalemite cry’ will be followed by other events
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 17 Feb — Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Palestinian Islamist movement in the 1948-occupied territories, said that the “Jerusalemite cry” tent is only a station in this way to liberate Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. This came in a press conference held on Saturday evening at the end of the events of Jerusalemite cry tent, set up in Wadi al-Jawz area in Jerusalem for the third day. Sheikh Salah said that another tent will be set up in Nazareth on Monday in support of all the Palestinian issues, particularly the issue of prisoners, noting that such events will not stop.
Fourteen Palestinians released in Gilad Shalit deal back in Israeli jails
Haaretz 17 Feb by Amira Hass — Changes in military law allow IDF and Shin Bet to rearrest any released prisoner until the end of his or her original sentence, on the slightest pretext, and often relying on secret evidence — Four hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners have managed to upset the Palestinian public more than any other element of friction created under Israeli domination. Two of the strikers, Tarek Qa’adan and Ja‘afar Ezzedine, are administrative detainees. The other two, Ayman Sharawna and Samer Issawi, were released in the Gilad Shalit deal and subsequently rearrested. Issawi has been subsisting on water, salts and food supplements now for more than 200 days, while Sharawna has been fasting (with short breaks) for 140 days.
Concern for their fate has shunted aside discussion of the cardinal issue of the land mines created by the deal to release prisoners, which were concealed during the celebrations over their return. Since the deal that liberated Shalit was signed in October 2011, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service have rearrested 14 of the prisoners released in the exchange. At the time five of them had been sentenced to between 24 and 38 years in prison. Now, they are slated to complete the remainder of their sentences − from 16 to 28 years.
Various Israeli media reports say the rearrested prisoners supposedly returned to terrorist activity. However, the range of Israeli definitions for ‘terror’ includes activities that the Palestinians consider simple civil acts (such as receiving a living allowance, like Abu Daud does) or normal political activities (membership in political institutions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization or participation in a meeting or a rally
Prisoner in Israeli isolation for two years ‘forgets speech’
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — A Palestinian man held in solitary confinement by Israel for two years is losing his ability to recall language and has speech impairments, a lawyer who visited him in jail said Sunday. The lawyer for the Palestinian prisoners society said Dirar Abu Sisi, an engineer from Gaza, is suffering from a number of health problems in his isolation cell. Abu Sisi disappeared in February 2011 while traveling on a train in Ukraine and Israel later announced that it was holding him in a southern Israeli jail. He was the only prisoner excluded from a May 2012 deal with Israeli authorities to end solitary confinement, according to prisoners rights group Addameer.
IOF soldiers arrest wife of prisoner during visit
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 17 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested the wife of prisoner Ayman al-Za‘qiq during a visit to her husband in Ofer prison, west of Ramallah, on Sunday. The Palestinian prisoner’s association said that IOF soldiers detained Shireen Al-Za‘qiq and her two daughters. Ayman, from Beit Ummar village north of Al-Khalil, has been in administrative detention of the past year and a half.
Arab League calls on international community to support striking prisoners
CAIRO (WAFA) 17 Feb — Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi Sunday called on the international community to hold responsibility regarding the striking prisoners whose prolonged hunger strike is endangering their lives. An Arab League statement stated that al-Arabi addressed the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and United Nations human right chief, Navi Pillay, to intervene to free striking prisoner Samer Issawi and all the other prisoners.
EU calls for better conditions for Palestinians jailed in Israel
Ramallah (Reuters) 16 Feb — The European Union on Saturday called on Israel to improve conditions for Palestinians in its jails, and a Palestinian minister said there would be rallies next week to support hunger striking prisoners … EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that she is “following with concern” the deteriorating health of four Palestinian inmates who are staging long-term hunger strikes in protest of their detention. “The EU calls on the government of Israel to allow for the immediate restoration of their family visiting rights and calls for the full respect of international human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners,” she said.
Fishermen fired on off Gaza coast
MEMO 17 Feb — An Israeli gunboat attacked some Palestinian fishing vessels off the north coast of Gaza just after 8am local time today. According to MEMO’s Ibrahim Hewitt, who witnessed the attack from the Gaza shore, the Palestinian fishermen looked to be well within the Israeli-imposed 6 mile limit. International law recognises a 12-mile limit of territorial water around the world … No casualties have been reported at the time of writing.
Palestinian citizen dies of serious injuries in ordnance explosion
GAZA (PIC) 16 Feb — A Palestinian young man has died of serious wounds sustained in the explosion of an ordnance south of the Gaza Strip a week ago. Medical sources said on Friday that Othman Al-Abed, 25, died on Thursday night of serious wounds suffered in the explosion of an ordinance in Qarara town to the north east of Khan Younis. Three Palestinians were injured in that explosion the wounds of which were described as very serious. Three children were similarly wounded on Thursday morning in Beit Hanun while a fourth child was declared dead after suffering critical wounds in a similar explosion two days earlier.
Egypt forces say 225 Gaza tunnels found under border
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Egyptian forces have discovered over 225 smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip, a military spokesperson said Sunday. Egyptian military spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Ali told Ma‘an that the army is continuing with efforts to close down the network of underground tunnels. “Each tunnel has several exits, including inside Egyptian houses, and thus can be difficult to detect. There may therefore be as many as over 500 tunnels,” he added. Earlier this week, Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip in a campaign to shut them down, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said.
Egypt deports 10 Palestinians to Gaza for illegal entry
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Egyptian authorities deported ten Palestinians to the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening after they were found to have entered the country illegally, security officials told Ma‘an. The Palestinians were accused of entering Egypt’s Sinai peninsula through tunnels under the Gaza border. Egypt has put their names on a blacklist to prevent them re-entering Egypt, the officials said.
Photo of Gazan funeral procession is top winner of international contest
Mondoweiss 15 Feb by Annie Robbins & Alex Kane — Judges for the 2013 World Press Photo Contest have awarded the Photo of the Year to Swedish photojournalist Paul Hansen for his photograph of a Gazan funeral procession taken during Operation Pillar of Cloud last November. The award is considered one of the most prestigious photojournalism honors in the world. The procession was for Fouad Hijazi and his two children Sohaib, 2, and Muhamad, 4, killed by an Israeli airstrike November 19, 2012. As the Palestine Center’s Yousef Munayyer notes, the backstory to this photo is chronicled in the latest Human Rights Watch report on alleged Israeli war crimes committed during the latest assault on Gaza. The human rights group notes that “field investigations of these attacks” — including the bombing of the Hijazi home — “found no evidence of Palestinian fighters, weaponry, or other apparent military objectives at the time of the attack. Individuals who deliberately order or take part in attacks targeting civilians or civilian objects are responsible for war crimes.”
Over 200 people take part in mass Gaza wedding
[photos] GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Over 200 people took part in a mass wedding in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, a local organization said. The mass wedding was organized by an association in the coastal territory which facilitates marriage arrangements, with most of the participants war victims with disabilities, blind or elderly. Saed Abu Nada, director of the organization, said the event was designed to help the disabled, financially marginalized and divorced to find their life-partner.
Twelve-year-old from Gaza gets prosthetic leg in Dearborn
DEARBORN (Arab American News) 15 Feb — A 12-year-old boy from Gaza who arrived in metro Detroit in November seeking medical attention got a prosthetic leg on Tuesday. The procedure was performed at Dr. Jiab Sulieman’s office here. Dr. Sulieman has partnered up with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) to provide medical assistance for children from around the world who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it. Muath Abudaher has been staying with Yasmeen Hamed, who along with her husband and four children have been hosting his three month stay here. Abudaher lives in Gaza with his 11 siblings and father. He is here on a visa seeking medical attention for his amputated leg
Political, economic news
Unprecedented numbers of voter registrants, says Elections Commission
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 16 Feb — Voter registration centers are receiving unprecedented numbers of registrants reaching a total of 202,457 until closing hour on Friday, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) said in a statement Saturday. It said that out of the total, 155,469 of the registrants were in the Gaza Strip and 46,988 in the West Bank. “The difference in the two percentages between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is attributed to having the voter registry updated in the West Bank on an annual basis (last registry update was August), while it has not been updated in Gaza since 2007,” it said … The CEC said statistics showed that the lowest registration turnout was in the southern West Bank city of Hebron where only 66% of the eligible registrants have registered.
Election body: 155,000 registered to vote in Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — The Central Elections Commission said Saturday that 155,000 people have registered to vote in the Gaza Strip, with two days to go until the update of the electoral roll closes … CEC director Hisham Kahil said 79 percent of eligible voters were now registered in Gaza, and in the West Bank — where a parallel voter registration process is taking place — 76 percent of voters are on the roll. The number of newly-registered voters is up 18 percent on the last electoral roll update, Kahil said. Voter registration centers will close on Monday, and the CEC will then start processing the data, which will take between four to six weeks.
CEC: Jerusalem residents automatically added to voter roll
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — The Palestinian Central Elections Commission said Sunday that all Palestinian residents of Jerusalem will be automatically added to the voter roll due to their inability to open registration booths in the city. Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed the territory, in a move never recognized internationally. Palestinian residents were given special permits to remain in the city without Israeli citizenship … Any Jerusalem residents wishing to register are welcome to do so in seam towns Al-Ram and Abu Dis, which are under Palestinian control and so could open voter centers, the CEC said.
Gaza police detain Fatah members for blocking voter record
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Gaza police arrested two Fatah members for tearing up the electoral register at a voter booth on Friday. Sa’ed Ahmad Kilani and Ra’ed Atiya Kilani attempted to block the voter registration process at Al-Shaimaa school in Beit Lahiya, a police statement said. Fatah issued a statement condemning the arrest of two of its members.
West Bank teachers to strike Sunday, Thursday
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Feb – All schools across the West Bank will be on general strike Sunday and Thursday, the general union of West Bank teachers announced Saturday. Secretary of the union of south Nablus area teachers Izz Dawabsha told Ma‘an the decision to go on strike was taken unanimously in a meeting the union of West Bank teachers held Saturday. The move, he said, comes to protest failure of the Palestinian government to pay January wages
Health workers to go on strike, union says
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Health workers in the West Bank will go on strike this week in protest against bad work conditions and the late payment of salaries, health unions said Sunday. The health sector will go on full strike from Sunday, but will work on Tuesday in order to fulfill their responsibilities to the general public, a statement from the federation of healthcare unions said. Emergency cases and emergency surgical procedures will continue, the union said, as will open heart surgery. Workers will also continue to treat cancer patients, those on dialysis and women giving birth.
PA workers in Yatta to strike over unpaid wages
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 1 Feb — Palestinian Authority employees in the municipality of Yatta, Hebron suspended work on Sunday in protest against the late payment of salaries, a union said. Mousa al-Hadar, chairman of Yatta’s employees union, told Ma‘an that workers in the municipality have not been paid for seven months. The union will hold a protest Monday in front of the PA finance ministry to demand that they provide Yatta municipality with nearly 9 million shekels ($2.4 million) of overdue budget transfers.
Union: No date set for payment of PA salaries
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — The Palestinian Authority will pay government salaries for January in a week, but has yet to specify a date, the public sector workers union said Thursday. Union chief Bassam Zakarneh insisted the PA must set a date to pay January wages, after a meeting with ministers in Ramallah. Zakarneh said in a statement that the union informed a ministerial committee that government staff were struggling to buy basic necessities and could not afford transport to work … Since November, Israel has withheld Palestinian tax revenue it collects on behalf of the PA, exacerbating the government’s financial crisis. The PA’s 153,000 public sector workers have received partial salaries, which have repeatedly been paid late.
Youth coalition: Unity process prolonging division
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — A coalition of Palestinian youth groups in the Arab world, Europe and US on Sunday accused Palestinian leaders in Gaza and the West Bank of prolonging national division through “absurd” unity talks, and called for them to prioritize PLO elections … Reconciliation meetings held in Cairo last week ended without agreement on the date of new elections or a transition government, participants said. The youth groups said the apparent failure of the talks make clear that the reconciliation process has “only prolonged the division and deepened its impact on Palestinian society.”
Hamas official confirms indirect talks with Israel
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya on Sunday confirmed that the movement is holding indirect talks with Israel over the implementation of a ceasefire deal, but insisted that they did not amount to political negotiations. Al-Hayya was commenting on a report on Israel’s Channel 2 TV on Friday, which said Israeli and Hamas representatives had been negotiating for weeks. The agenda of the talks include Israel permitting Egypt to open its Rafah border with Gaza to allow the entry of Qatari-donated construction materials, and the export of Gaza’s agricultural products to Israel, according to the report. Al-Hayya said the framework of the talks are solely the terms of the ceasefire deal which ended an eight-day conflict in November. There are no contacts or meetings of a political nature, he said.
Hamas, Fatah to meet Feb. 27, official says
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 17 Feb — Delegations from Hamas and Fatah will meet in Cairo later this month to discuss the formation of a new government, a senior Hamas leader said Sunday. Hamas’ deputy politburo chief Mousa Abu Marzouq said in a statement that the factions will meet on Feb. 27 to discuss mechanisms for formatting a unity government. Hamas official Khalil al-Hayeh said Saturday that the unity government will address the most important reconciliation issues, including holding elections and reforming security forces.
Fatah, Hamas slam expulsion of Bulgaria delegation
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — Hamas and Fatah officials on Saturday criticized Bulgaria’s decision to expel a Hamas delegation visiting the country, demanding an apology from the East European country. Bulgarian security forces on Friday raided the hotel rooms of a visiting Hamas delegation, ordering them to leave the country, the Islamist group said. Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil said the decision by Bulgaria violates diplomatic norms and should be condemned by all Arab and Palestinian leaders. “We entered the country with an official visa, so we should have left willingly, rather than being expelled. The delegates represent the Palestinian people, not Hamas, though they are affiliated to Hamas,” al-Bardawil told a press conference on Saturday. The delegation was invited by Bulgaria’s Center for Middle East Studies, the Hamas official said, adding that the group’s expulsion shows how the EU is subservient to Israel. Sufian Abu Zaida, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council called the expulsion of the Hamas delegation an assault on Palestinian dignity.
Abbas unveils corner stone for Palestinian embassy in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD (WAFA) 17 Feb — President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas unveiled Sunday the cornerstone for the Palestinian embassy in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and his Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf attended this event.
PA transportation minister arrives in Cairo for talks
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 16 Feb — …Ali Abu Zuhri will meet with Egypt’s minister of aviation on Sunday to discuss ways to support the Egypt-based Palestinian airlines, including the possibility of creating a partnership with the aviation ministry and increasing flight schedules. Palestinian Authority Ambassador to Egypt Barakat al-Farra will attend the meeting. Palestinian Airlines has a fleet of three aircraft. It operates out of El-Arish and offers charter services to Saudi Arabia during the annual Muslim pilgrimage season. The fleet was based at Yasser Arafat International Airport in Gaza until an Israeli ban on Palestinian commercial flights grounded planes and airstrikes damaged the airport in 2001.
Ireland promises to support the Palestinian refugees issue
LONDON (PIC) 17 Feb — A high-level European delegation met with the Irish Trade and Development Minister Joe Costello to discuss the crisis of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to Lebanon, particularly the Palestinians. The Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) said in a statement on Saturday that the Council delegation, which includes European parliamentarians and politicians, has met, following its visit to Lebanon earlier this month, with the Irish Minister to urge the European Union to provide more support and protection to refugees fleeing from Syria to Lebanon, especially that his country heads the European Union in its current session.
Action group: Two Palestinians refugees killed in attacks on Yarmouk camp
DAMASCUS (PIC) 16 Feb — The action group for the Palestinians in Syria said the Syrian regime forces killed two Palestinian refugees in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp and shelled the camps of Dara‘a and Husseiniya. The group said that a little girl named Nagam Abdul-Aziz and a man named Mahmoud Ibrahim were killed in projectile attacks on different areas of Al-Yarmouk camp. It noted that many rallies took place on Friday in the camp demanding the Syrian regime to lift its blockade and end its attacks on the Palestinian refugees.
Editorial: Inhuman living conditions in refugee camps in Lebanon
NAHR AL-BARID REFUGEE CAMP, Lebanon (Ma‘an) 15 Feb — Trying to get a firsthand experience about the Palestinian refugees living under extremely dire conditions in Lebanon refugee camps, a Ma‘an TV crew has visited several families in Beirut camps recently. Though media outlets have repeatedly tried to touch on the unbelievable living conditions, reality is still much more difficult and living there is really intolerable … Surprisingly, the long awaited Palestinian unity was felt while the crew toured the alleys of Nahr Al-Barid camp and other communities. Photos of late President Yasser Arafat, and other ‘martyrs’ regardless of their political affiliation could be seen everywhere on the walls in the streets. There are photos of ‘martyrs’ affiliated to Fatah, to Hamas, to the PFLP, the DFLP, Islamic Jihad and all other factions. Many refugee families have living in shipping containers in war-torn Nahr al-Barid camp for six years. These containers can never be fit for human residence as they are nothing more than steel boxes.
Israeli Racism / Discrimination
Young woman harassed on bus by haredim
Ynet 17 Feb by Neri Brenner — The phenomenon of women’s exclusion continues unabated: Noa Kanteman, 22, recently rode an Egged bus from Safed to Ashdod, and suffered abuse and harassment from haredi passengers the entire ride. “Everyone who got on (the bus) told me to sit in the back; I refused. They yelled that they must pray really hard because there’s an impurity in the bus,” she told Ynet. Kanteman arrived safely at her destination, but chose not to repeat the experience on her way back. “As a religious person, I know that bus seating arrangements are not written in the Torah; they invented themselves a halacha,” she said.
Birthright now offering skateboarding, hip hop-themed trips to Israel
972blog 14 Feb by Mairav Zonszein — As if it wasn’t enough to offer Jews around the world a trip to Israel totally free of charge, the Birthright industry is now marketing “the only skateboarding trip to Israel” and a “hip hop” trip. This is in addition to the already popular ‘niche’ tours that include those catering to the LGBT community, food enthusiasts and wheelchair-bound Jews.
‘Druze price tag’ graffiti found in Galilee tomb
Ynet 16 Feb by Maor Buchnik – A graffiti reading “Druze price tag” was found in the tomb of Jonathan ben Uzziel in the Upper Galilee on Saturday. Damage was caused to the site. The site attracts pilgrims in search of a match. Safed police have launched an investigation. Safed Police chief Ofer Kantarovich said, “Someone could have written ‘Druze‘ to implicate members of the community. There is no apparent reason for a Druze to spray-paint hate slogans in such a place.” … It is unclear whether the vandalism in the tomb of Jonathan ben Uzziel is an act of Jewish terror.
Israeli soldier posts disturbing Instagram photo of child in crosshairs of his rifle
EI 15 Feb by Ali Abunimah — This disturbing image shows the back of the head of a child or young man as seen in the crosshairs of a rifle. The photo was posted on the personal Instagram account of Mor Ostrovski, a 20-year old Israeli soldier in a sniper unit. The context — particularly the character of the buildings seen in the background of the image — strongly suggests the child could be Palestinian. There are no other images to suggest that the photographer actually fired at the person in the image in this case. The image is simply tasteless and dehumanizing. It embodies the idea that Palestinian children are targets. It reminded me of a chilling account another Israeli soldier gave to the group Breaking the Silence about how Israeli soldiers in Nablus in 2006-2007 would deliberately fire at children, sometimes using live ammunition and sometimes rubber-coated steel bullets: … Update, 17 February: Israeli army says sniper photo exposed by EI is a “severe incident” [18 Feb Haaretz article adds to the story: Another soldier gets two weeks in military jail for posting his picture on Facebook next to bound and blindfolded detainees]
French group that saved Jews from Nazis snubs Shoah memorial event
JTA 12 Feb — A French organization that saved Jews during the Holocaust has declined to attend a commemoration because it was organized by pro-Israel Jews. The Marseille branch of CIMADE, a French Protestant group established in 1939, declined to attend the region’s main memorial ceremony for Jewish Holocaust victims because of the pro-Israel attitude of CRIF, the umbrella group representing French Jewish communities, which organized the event together with the municipality. The values that led CIMADE to save Jews make the group ‘equally committed to oppose the colonial, discriminatory and bellicose policy of Israel with regards to the Palestinians’, CIMADE regional deputies Françoise Rocheteau and Jean-Pierre Cavalie wrote in a letter to the local CRIF branch on Dec. 21. It also said CIMADE was determined to fight ‘apartheid’.
Analysis / Opinion
Video: Celebrating 20 years of the peace process!
Mondoweiss 16 Feb by Annie Robbins and Phil Weiss — Wonderful, written and performed by Azizi bin Habeebi. Media, please see Pinocchio moment at 1:28 and, at 2:00, Habeebi’s use of the maps made famous in New York by that great ad campaign. “Mommy, daddy, look at the map!”
Twilight Zone– Palestinian West Bank protest leader: ‘Israel killed the two-state solution’ / Gideon Levy & Alex Levac
Haaretz 17 Feb — Bassam Tamimi returned to the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh this week after completing his ninth sentence in an Israeli jail. The Palestinian activist explains why he now believes in one state for all … “Israel has killed the two-state solution. That is why we must adopt a new strategy, and find a new partner for that strategy in Israeli society. We must kill the occupation and the [sense of] separation in the Israeli consciousness: The separation of people from one another is a question of consciousness. We must never return to this failed pattern of thinking. The future will not change if we continue to think with the same concepts of the past. The solution is a single state. If we believe we have a right to this land and the Israelis believe they are the ones who have a right to this land, we must build a new model. If both of us believe that God gave us this land, we must put history aside and begin to think about the future in different terms … “The two-state solution is not just. Jewish holy sites are located in the West Bank. My children love to go to the beach, which is located in Israeli territory. I love to stroll in Jaffa and Acre, which are both located in Israel. Most of Israel’s water is in the West Bank. A large portion of Israel’s revenue comes from tourism, and part of the Palestinian economy is entitled to be based on tourism. Everything is interconnected. I do not want to deny anyone these rights. I want a solution for everyone. I know that such a thing has not always worked out in every place, but the world is moving toward the elimination of all borders and toward economic union.”
Palestinian citizens of Israel represent a core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict / Dana DiPietro
Mondoweiss 15 Feb The Palestinian Arab minority in Israel is a “core issue, not second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”- Internal EU report, December 2011  — Almost 1.5 million Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel comprise approximately 20% of the population and occupy a unique position within Israeli society. This population remained in Israel and became citizens following the inception of the State of Israel in 1948. As such, they share deep familial, national, religious, linguistic, social, and cultural ties with Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and in the Diaspora. Yet, as citizens of the State of Israel, they also speak Hebrew and are familiar with the broader Israeli society. From 1948 to 1966, the Palestinian Arab community in Israel was subject to military rule, which applied exclusively to Palestinian Arab citizens, despite the fact that they were formally declared citizens in 1948. Since that time, legal discrimination against them continues in areas such as political, socio-economic and cultural rights. Today, the status of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel amounts to second-class citizenship, or a “probationary”citizenship. Demands to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state sends a discriminatory message to Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. Moreover, key positions in the government are occupied by individuals who have been openly hostile to the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel going so far as to call for the revocation of their citizenship, and even for their collective transfer to a future Palestinian state.