Israel arrests six, including two journalists, as activists attempt to build new protest encampment near Hebron

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Israel foils fifth attempt by Palestinians to build West Bank tent village
Ramallah (LA Times) 9 Feb by Maher Abukhater — Israeli soldiers and border guards Saturday removed tents Palestinians had set up in an area south of Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, to protest Israeli plans to take over the land. The tent village named Canaan is the fifth that activists have set up in the last month on land they fear Israel intends to seize to build settlements. Israel has foiled each attempt. Mazen Qumsiyeh, a Palestinian activist at the Canaan village, said between 15 and 20 Palestinian and international activists made two attempts to set up the tents there. Early in the morning, he said, they put up three tents, which were quickly seized by Israeli soldiers; two hours later, the activists returned to a nearby plot and set up one tent. The army brought reinforcements to the area, declared it a closed military zone after setting up checkpoints on roads leading to it, and then pushed the activists away, Qumsiyeh said, after spraying stinky water that made it impossible to stay in the tent. “It is our natural right to develop, reclaim, improve, use, and live on all our lands free and without threats from the occupiers,” he said.,0,680839.story

Video: West Bank violence following settlement protest
Reuters 9 Feb 1:27 — Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank on Saturday at a protest against Jewish settlements in the area. Six people, two of them journalists, are detained at the site in South Hebron. Israeli forces used foul-smelling water to disperse demonstrators and dismantled tents set up in protest

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

Cremisan Valley awaits court hearing, stands firm against wall
PNN 9 Feb by Claire Bosworth — Local people, along with members of the broader Christian community, expressed outrage over the planned construction of the Israeli Segregation Wall in the Cremisan Valley at a public mass and protest on Friday, 8 February. The land of the Cremisan Valley is fertile, green and beloved.  Nestled on the outskirts of the town of Beit Jala, the rolling hills of the Cremisan valley include agricultural land, the Monk Monastery, the Salesian Sisters Convent, a winery, and a school for local children.  The valley has also been a recreation spot for the people living in the area, whether for a picnic, a game of football, or just a breath of fresh air. Every Friday since October 2011, Father Ibrahim Shomali and other local priests have held a public mass in the Valley to protest the Israeli occupation authority’s decision to build the Separation Wall directly through this land.

MK Tibi joins protest against East Jerusalem highway
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi joined hundreds of protesters on Sunday to demonstrate against the construction of a highway in an East Jerusalem neighborhood. Protesters in Beit Safafa formed a human chain and set up tents to protest the construction of Road 4, which would confiscate part of the neighborhood’s land and divide the area in two. Tibi climbed onto a tractor at the scene, preventing it from carrying out any work, while protesters chanted slogans against the highway and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. Israeli police arrested three protesters at the scene.

Israel approves construction of 869 housing units in West Bank settlements
NAZARETH (PIC) 9 Feb — Israeli war minister, Ehud Barak, approved on Friday the construction of a total of 869 new settlement units in the West Bank. Israeli sources reported that Barak approved 146 new units that would be built in Nokdim illegal settlement in the south of Bethlehem. According to the Hebrew weekly Yorshalim newspaper, Barak has also approved the construction plan of 200 units in Tiqua settlement in the Gush Eztion settlement bloc, built on Palestinian lands in the Bethlehem district.

Construction underway in Kiryat Arba settlement
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 10 Feb — Construction work was monitored at the outskirts of Kiryat Arba settlement to the east of Al-Khalil city, eyewitnesses told the PIC on Sunday. They said that trucks, loaded with cement and other construction material, were seen driving into the eastern areas of the settlement. The Israeli occupation authorities had endorsed the building of dozens of housing units in Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion settlement bloc, to the north of Al-Khalil, over the past few weeks

Historic buildings around Al-Aqsa continue to be demolished
MEMO 9 Feb — For the third day in a row, Israeli bulldozers are demolishing historic arches and facades of Islamic buildings dating back to the Mamluk and Ottoman eras on the north side of Buraq Square. The site lies just 50 metres from the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa. Details of the architectural vandalism by the Israeli occupation authorities were provided by Al-Aqsa Foundation for Religious Endowments and Heritage in a press statement. The Israeli demolition work is a prelude to the establishment of a centre promoting the state’s Judaisation policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. The buildings in question formed part of the Moroccan Quarter of the Old City, which was demolished by the Israelis in 1967 at the start of the occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip … It is worth noting that the State of Israel pledged in its Declaration of Independence that it “will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”. The State of Israel regularly breaks both pledges with apparent impunity.

IOF demolish Palestinian family’s protest tent
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 10 Feb — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) demolished in the late hours of Friday evening a protest tent in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood set up by Shamasneh family in protest against the decision to evict them from their home early next month … The house, in which 10 members of Shamasneh family are living, consists of two bedrooms.The family lives in the home since 1964, where the family has paid rent to the Jordanian authorities, then continued to pay rent to the occupation authorities which renewed the lease after occupying the city and named the family a protected tenant since 1968. In 2011, the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property has resorted to the court in order to evacuate Shamasneh family claiming the expiration of a lease in 2008, without mentioning that the family was paying rent until after 2008.

Occupation issued decision to confiscate a Palestinian’s agricultural land
BETHLEHEM (PIC) 10 Feb — The occupation authorities notified a citizen, from Al-Khader village south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, with the confiscation of his land of five dunums and uprooting all the planted trees. Ahmed Salah, coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements in Al-Khader village, told Quds Press’ correspondent that the Israeli Civil Administration issued a decision to confiscate the agricultural land of the citizen Ali Abdul Hadi, which is located in the area of Khallet Umm al-Fahm. The decision also obliges the Palestinian farmer to uproot all the trees and destroy all the plants in his land. According to Salah, Israel seeks to control the area of Khallet Umm al-Fahm in order to implement the Judaization projects and establish Talmudic parks on its lands.

Israel to evacuate Palestinian farmer from his land
BETHLEHEM (WAFA) 10 Feb — Israeli authorities Sunday ordered a Palestinian citizen from Al-Khadr town, near Bethlehem, to evacuate his land, which is located between the two illegal settlements of Eleazar and Elon Shefot, according to an activist. Coordinator for the Popular Committee of resisting settlement and the Wall, Amad Salah, told WAFA that Ali Da’dou’, the farmer, was surprised when he found a notice on a branch of one of his olive trees ordering immediate evacuation … He said the notice stated that the farmer must evacuate within 45 days or else he will have to pay the expenses of the evacuation process.

Thanks to your help, Mamun Nasser has been released from Israeli imprisonment
ISM 11 Feb — Thanks to your help Mamun Nasser has been released from Israeli imprisonment. Mamun had spent nearly two months in jails after he was violently attacked whilst working his land in Madama. The land he was working on is privately owned Palestinian land, which, unfortunately for Mamun, is next to the most violent settlement in the West Bank, Yizhar.  Mamun was last seen before his arrest by his mother. “I am really worried about Mamun. He was in really bad shape, covered in blood, his face was swollen and he was frothing from the mouth. I hope they give him the medical attention he needs,” she said. Prior to the recent attack, the Nasser family were able to tend their sheep on the land near the Yizhar settlement. Around the beginning of December, settlers went before an Israeli judge claiming Mamun Nasser was grazing his sheep inside the settlement. Considering the high fence and military infrastructure surrounding the settlement, the judge deemed that to be impossible. Yizhar settlers have since then enacted a ‘price tag’ on the Nasser family, involving the destruction of a well and a wheat field. The Eid festival last year saw 20 of their olive trees cut down, to be discovered with the written message “Have a Happy Eid”.

Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (31 Jan – 6 Feb 2013)
7 Feb — The Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Palestinian civilians in the border area of the Gaza Strip 2 Palestinian children were wounded in the northern Gaza Strip; the wound of one of whom is serious. The Israeli forces conducted 83 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones into the Gaza Strip. At least 80 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children, were arrested in the West Bank. 3 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) were among those who were arrested. Offices of al-Zakat Committee in Tulkarm and Islamic Awqaf (endowments) Department in Qalqilia were raided. The Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the sea. The Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. A Palestinian child was wounded in Kofur Qaddoum weekly protest, northeast of Qalqilia.

Confrontations in all areas of occupied Jerusalem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 9 Feb — Violent confrontations took place on Friday between Israeli occupation forces and inhabitants of various areas of occupied Jerusalem that inflicted casualties in lines of civilians. In Silwan south of the Old City, a cameraman was hit with a rubber bullet in his foot while a number of citizens were treated for breathing problems after the IOF soldiers used rubber bullets and teargas canisters to quell the demonstration held in solidarity with Palestinian detainees on hunger strike. A nine-year-old boy was hit with a rubber bullet in the head in Issawiye village, to the northeast of Jerusalem, and his condition was described as moderate. The village had witnessed clashes between inhabitants and the occupation soldiers after they destroyed a tent pitched in solidarity with hunger striker Samer Al-Issawi for the 20th time. Another youth was also hit with a rubber bullet in the head during those confrontations. IOF soldiers arrested three young men.
Fierce confrontations were also reported in the vicinity of Qalandia military roadblock and at the entrance to Ram village to the north of occupied Jerusalem in which soldiers used rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas canisters against the demonstrators. A young man was hit with a stun grenade while three others were injured with rubber bullets. Clashes took place at the entrance to Shufat refugee camp after which the soldiers raided the camp in big numbers and five youths were treated for gas inhalation. Marches in Alezariye and Abu Dis were organized in solidarity with hunger striking prisoners that ended with similar confrontations and the injury of three men with rubber bullets.

Israeli politician attacks non-violent activist in Hebron
ISM Hebron 9 Feb by Team Khalil — [Update: Issa Amro was arrested yesterday afternoon and accused of assaulting Baruch Marzel. Issa was released yesterday night on bail.] A non-violent activist group was attacked last night by a gang of settlers including the ultra right-wing Israeli politician Baruch Marzel. Members of the Hebron based non-violent Youth Against Settlements group say that Marzel’s son and friends came to their centre, located on the edge of the illegal Tel Rumeida settlement, and began throwing stones at the activists. Baruch then arrived, entered their property without permission and attempted to strike Issa Amro, the group’s coordinator. This event was captured on film. The group also told how Marzel attempted to kick Jawad Abu Eysheh. Soldiers soon arrived and separated the crowds. Amro and Abu Eysheh were detained and the settlers were allowed to return home, despite video evidence of their violence.

IDF detains AP photographer during West Bank protest
JERUSALEM (AP) 11 Feb — Israeli troops detained an Associated Press photographer during West Bank unrest over the weekend, handcuffing him and forcing him to sit on the ground without food or water or access to a bathroom for roughly five hours, according to eyewitness accounts. The photographer, Nasser Shiyoukhi, was released without charge after Saturday’s incident.

Israeli forces detain 6 overnight in West Bank raids
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Israeli forces detained six Palestinians overnight Saturday, a military representative said. Troops also clashed with Palestinians in towns in the northern West Bank on Saturday evening … An Israeli military spokesman said two people were detained in Burqa, two others in ‘Arura, near Ramallah, and another in Beit Kahil and Yatta, in the Hebron district. Also late Saturday night, Israeli forces surrounded the village of ‘Azzun, near Qalqiliya, and fired tear gas, causing breathing difficulties amongst the residents, locals said, noting that settlers tried to enter the village …  Israeli troops also raided Burin village, south of Nablus, on Saturday evening, and fired tear gas, but no injuries were reported.

IOF soldiers round up four Palestinians including two brothers, young woman
NABLUS, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed at dawn Sunday Burqa village, west of Nablus, and arrested three young men including two brothers. Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers arrested Shadi Zahi, who works with the PA security agencies, and his brother Fadi only few days after the arrest of their third brother Rafat at the Karame crossing while on his way home from Jordan. They said that the soldiers also detained Munjed Daghlas after breaking into and ransacking his family home in the village.
IOF soldiers also stormed a number of suburbs in Nablus city and the Asker refugee camp to the east of the city and searched a number of homes.
Meanwhile, local sources said that IOF soldiers detained 21-year-old Ala’a Abu Zaitun at Hawara roadblock near Nablus on Friday afternoon. They said that the soldiers claimed that the young woman had a sharp tool in her possession and took her to Hawara detention camp for interrogation.
In another incident also in Nablus district, eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that IOF soldiers burst into Burin village, south west of Nablus, on Saturday night. They said that dozens of soldiers stormed the village in armored vehicles, adding that the soldiers had recently increased their incursions into Burin with no declared reason.

Injuries reported as army attacks Bil‘in’s weekly protest
IMEMC 9 Feb (roundup of weekly protests in various villages) Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday afternoon, the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and settlements, in Bil‘in village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah; dozens suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation. Similar attacks have been carried out against protests in different parts of the West Bank … Also in Ramallah, the soldiers attacked nonviolent protesters in Ni‘lin nearby village, and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas bombs, several injuries have been reported. In Kufur Qaddoum village, near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia, three nonviolent protesters were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets, and several others were treated for the effects of tear gas inhalation after the army attacked the weekly protest … In Bethlehem, Israeli troops stopped the weekly anti wall protest at the Ma‘sara village entrance, and forced people back into the village using rifle butts and batons to force the protesters away, no injuries were reported.

Israel arrests lawmakers in raids on cities under Palestinian Authority ‘control’
EI 7 Feb by Maureen Clare Murphy — Israeli forces conducted sweeping overnight arrest campaigns in the West Bank at the beginning of the week, according to news sources and the human rights group Addameer. Most of those targeted in the dawn raids are leaders in the Hamas movement, three of whom are elected lawmakers in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The arrested members of parliament include Ahmad Attoun, who was forcibly transferred from his hometown of Jerusalem to the West Bank city of Ramallah after Israeli forces stormed the International Committee of the Red Cross in occupied East Jerusalem, where Attoun had taken refuge, in September 2011. Also arrested were PLC members Hatem Fiqisha and Muhammad al-Tal, both from Hebron. All three had previously been imprisoned by Israel

Israel’s arrest campaign against Palestinian parliamentarians
MEMO 8 Feb by Maha Salah — According to international law and even the Israeli legal system, no one should be detained for their political beliefs. However, this is not the reality in the occupied Palestinian territories. Elected Palestinian political leaders are arrested and detained regularly as part of Israel’s effort to hinder Palestinian political processes, leading to the stifling of Palestine’s political sovereignty and independence. Such arrests have recently been focused on parliamentarians who are linked in some way to Hamas. There are currently about 4,500 Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons; 178 are held without charges and 15 are Hamas members of the Palestinian equivalent of a parliament, the Legislative Council. In recent weeks, Hamas sympathisers have been the target of an arrest campaign as Israel tries to destabilise Palestinian politics and the relatively peaceful rapport between the rival main parties, Hamas and Fatah.

Egypt’s foreign ministry slams Israel’s arrest of Palestinian MPs
CAIRO (PIC) 10 Feb — The Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs strongly denounced Israel for its latest arrest campaign against Hamas-affiliated lawmakers in the West Bank and demanded their immediate release. Spokesman for the ministry Nazih Al-Najjari stated that the recent detention of dozens of Palestinians from Hamas, including three lawmakers, was an Israeli attempt to hinder the Palestinian reconciliation and the national talks taking place in Cairo in this regard.

Prisoners / Hunger strikers / Court actions

Israeli court sentences Palestinian judge in Jenin
JININ (PIC) 10 Feb — Salem Military Court has sentenced Mohammad Ahmad Freihat, Islamic court judge in the Jenin district, to 15 months and imposed a fine of three thousand shekels. The Israeli occupation forces arrested the Judge Freihat, 47, on 23 January 2012 after storming his house in the town of Yamoun, near Jenin. Freihat is known for his charity work in the city of Jenin and he has a master’s degree in jurisprudence and legislation of Najah National University, he is married and has six children, he suffers back pain and diabetes, Fares Abu Hassan, the lawyer of Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights, said.

PHOTOS: Bassem Tamimi released from prison
Mondoweiss 10 Feb by Annie Robbins — Bassem Tamimi, head of Nabi Saleh’s Popular Committee, hugs his wife Neriman during his welcoming party in his house in Nabi Saleh, after being released from prison. Tamimi spent 3 months in an Israeli jail after he was beaten and arrested calling for a boycott and protesting settler terror and the occupation and its products’ at Rami Levy, a Jewish-owned supermarket in the West Bank settlement of Sha’ar Binyamin that refuses to stock Palestinian produce and products.

Palestinian prisoners: We want an end to the administrative detention
RAMALLAH (PIC) 8 Feb — Palestinian administrative prisoners in Israeli jails confirmed that their last [latest] hunger strike was launched in protest at the policy of administrative detention pursued by the occupation authorities against them. The International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights quoted in a statement issued on Thursday captive Tarek Qa’dan as saying that the occupation government has been proving the falsity of its claims of democracy and respect for human rights.

Gaza welcomes home former hunger striker Akram Rikhawi
EI 8 Feb by Maureen Clare Murphy — Akram Rikhawi finally tasted freedom today after Israel released him from nearly a decade of imprisonment. Rikhawi had gone on and off hunger strike since last April in protest of the medical neglect of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons and after his request for early release was rejected. Rikhawi had recently renewed his hunger strike after Israel didn’t release him on 25 January 2013, as was the agreement that in July of last year ended Rikhawi’s refusal of food for 100 days Rikhawi was arrested in June 2004 as and sentenced to nine years in prison by Israel’s military courts. Rikhawi is the father of eight children and also cares for his late brother’s five children. According to the Palestinian human rights and prisoner advocacy group Addameer, Rikhawi was: held in Ramleh prison medical center since his arrest, as he suffers from many chronic conditions, including asthma. Prior to his arrest, Akram received injections of Kenacort to treat his asthma, but following his arrest, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) did not allow Akram to take this injection. Instead, it was replaced with injections of cortisone, which is most likely the cause of severe complications, resulting in additional chronic illnesses such as diabetes and osteoporosis, from which Akram now suffers.

Prisoner held by PA forces on hunger strike since Thursday
NABLUS (PIC) 10 Feb — Political prisoner Khalil Mahfouz, 29, said he has been on hunger strike for four days in protest at his detention without any guilt by the Palestinian authority preventive security apparatus. Mahfouz was kidnapped last Thursday as he was leaving a mosque in Nablus city and taken in chain to Juneid jail. He had been jailed several times before by the PA security apparatuses, and the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) also kidnapped him about seven months ago only a few days after his release from a PA jail.

Gaza siege

Watch: Bent but not broken in Hadeel Assali’s short video ‘Daggit Gaza’
EI submitted by Maureen Clare Murphy — A spicy salad special to Gaza, made by crushing tomatoes with a mortar and pestle, is used as a metaphor for the profound pressures endured by Palestinians under siege in Hadeel Assali’s clever short video Daggit Gazza. Daggit Gazza, according to the video’s description on Vimeo, “can be translated as the spicy tomato salad made in Gaza (called daggah) or the pounding of Gaza.” The video shows the dish being made from start to finish, first by crushing garlic with salt and chili pepper into a paste, then adding basil, tomato and finally olive oil. The video is accompanied by an audio recording of a conversation with the filmmaker’s uncle, Hossam. Only his side of the conversation is heard as he makes small talk about preparing the traditional qatayef sweet during Ramadan, and then moves on to describe to the more serious matter of the impact of Israel’s siege on Gaza. The short video, 7.5 minutes long, has been screened at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and at the Palestine film festivals in both Houston and Boston.

15 Israeli violations against Gaza’s fishermen in January
GAZA (PIC) 8 Feb — The Palestinian fishermen have been subjected during January to 15 Israeli violations in Gaza sea, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights revealed in a report published on Friday. The center said in its report that the Palestinian fishermen were exposed to 15 violations carried out by the Israeli Navy between January 1 and January 31, where 3 fishermen were arrested, in addition to the confiscation of their boat.

Israeli goods flood Gaza
Al-Monitor 8 Feb by Rana Baker — Walking into a supermarket in Gaza might come as a great surprise for a person visiting the coastal enclave for the first time. At first glance, the visitor would be amazed by the level to which the shelves are packed with all kinds of products, ranging from basic food supplies to expensive chocolates and Coca-Cola. A father pushing a heaped stroller, or a toddler restlessly pulling her mother’s hand and pointing at a lollipop, are scenes one is likely to encounter. A closer look into the shelves, however, reveals a paradox that finds a manifestation in almost every aspect of life in Gaza. On the surface, everyone seems to be normally going about their daily lives, but even purchasing behaviors are controlled by Israel. The Israeli government brags about the truckloads it allows into the Strip through the Karem Abu Salem commercial crossing point, but it always forgets, deliberately or not, to mention that the products that enter the Strip through this very crossing are mostly marked with 729, the made-in-Israel barcode.

Gaza ministry creates job scheme for graduates, official says
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Gaza’s Ministry of Work has formed a committee to provide 5,000 jobs for new graduates, an official said Sunday. General director of the ministry, Maher Abu Rayya, said in a statement that the new work program will last for 11 months, and graduates with a BA degree will get paid 1,000 Shekels ($270) per month, while those with a Diploma will receive at least 900 Shekels ($243).

Gaza: 2 injured during military training
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Two Palestinian militants sustained serious injuries Friday evening when an explosive device mistakenly exploded during training near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Palestinian prisoner dies at a prison in Gaza
A Palestinian prisoner held at the detention center run by the Palestinian Police in the Gaza Strip died, on Friday morning after he was moved to the Intensive care unit at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza city. The prisoner, Mahrous Fathi Nassar, 37, contracted meningitis while being held at the Sheikh Radwan Prison. He was arrested on January 31, 2013, after a local court ordered his imprisonment for 15 days for interrogation. He was moved to the Al-Shifa hospital on Thursday morning after his body temperature has seriously elevated and after he started throwing up.

Egyptian Salafist leaders plan visit to Gaza
Al-Ahram 9 Feb — The Palestinian Jihadist movement in Gaza announced on Saturday that Egypt’s Salafist Al-Watan Party Chairman Emad Abdel-Ghafour and former presidential candidate Hazem Abou Ismail will visit the besieged strip soon.According to the movement’s Commissioner of National Relations Salem Atallah, the visit is to collaborate with their movement and stand “in solidarity with Palestinians under siege.” Attallah detailed that the visit has been planned in coordination with Hamas, Gaza’s ruling government since 2007.


PLO officials in Syria for talks on refugees
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — A high-level PLO delegation arrived in Damascus on Sunday to discuss the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria, a PLO official said. Zakaria al-Agha, a Fatah official and Chairman of the PLO’s Refugee Affairs Department who is heading the delegation, said they will meet with Syrian officials, faction representatives in the Palestinian camps in Syria, as well as officials from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. The visit aims to secure the return of Palestinians to their homes. Many have fled Syria, or been internally displaced, as the fighting between the Syrian army and opposition forces spread into the camps.

UNRWA concerned over growing number of Palestinians killed in Syria
RAMALLAH (PIC) 10 Feb — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has expressed concern over the growing number of Palestinian refugees being killed in the ongoing internal conflict in Syria. The agency said in a press release on Sunday, “UNRWA deplores the unrelenting armed conflict in Syria and the extreme suffering it is inflicting on civilians, including Palestine refugees. In recent statements, the Agency has highlighted the crisis of large numbers compelled to leave the refugee camps in Rif Damascus to seek safety elsewhere, and the plight of those who remain in the camps. These Palestine refugees are unable to move safely, are subject to severe movement restrictions and face escalating threats from shelling and armed clashes…”

Group: Palestinians killed in Syria camps
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — Two Palestinians died Friday after being shot by snipers in a Syrian refugee camp, and medics discovered the body of a young girl killed by shelling, activists said.  A Palestinian monitoring group in Syria said the two young men from al-Hassineh refugee camp were found dead Friday. The camp has been under blockade for 75 days. Meanwhile the body of Reem Qanou, a young girl, was found three days after shelling in Yarmouk, Syria’s largest refugee camp, according to the group.

Syrian Regular Army kills 6 Palestinian refugees
DAMASCUS (PIC) 10 Feb — Six Palestinians were killed in Syria by the regular army’s bullets, while shelling continue to plague the refugee camps of Khan Sheikh and Husseiniya, the Work Group for Palestinians in Syria said.

PA provides financial assistance to Palestinian refugees in Egypt
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — The Palestinian embassy in Egypt is providing financial support to hundreds of families fleeing the conflict in Syria, Palestinian refugees told Ma‘an … One man, a lawyer, told Ma‘an on Sunday that he received 500 Egyptian pounds ($74) and 100 pounds ($14) per child from the Palestinian Authority embassy in Cairo. Another unidentified man said that at least 450 families fled to Cairo from Syria, with many begging to order to survive, with life more difficult in Egypt than Syria.

Activism / Solidarity / BDS – and the opposition

Gaza farmers call for boycott of Israeli firms
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — Hundreds of farmers marched towards Gaza’s border with Israel on Saturday to demand a boycott of Israeli agricultural firms, a local union said. The Union for Agricultural Work Committees in Gaza said in a statement that protesters also gathered in dozens of European cities to protest against Israeli company Mehadrin, which operates in illegal settlements and exports citrus fruits, dates and other produce. “The boycotts of Israeli agriculture companies are so important as the Israeli occupation has destroyed our farming production and denied us the possibility of exporting our own products,” farmer Mustapha Arafat said.

Campaigners call on Sainsbury’s to ban trade with Israeli agricultural companies
MEMO 10 Feb — …In Gaza farmers organisations prepared for 9 February with a press conference where farmers and fishermen explained the impact of the siege on their daily lives. They will be holding a rally through Gaza city and a march towards the buffer zone to plant olive trees. In the UK, campaigners have decided to focus their efforts on Sainsbury’s supermarket in response to the call from Palestinian farmers.  While Sainsbury’s insists it does not sell settlement produce, new research has shown that Sainsbury’s supplier EDOM is sourcing produce from illegal Israeli settlements and labelling them as ‘Produce of Israel’. Sainsbury’s also has a long standing history with Israeli company Mehadrin which boasts being the major exporter of Mejdoul dates. Mehadrin operates in illegal settlements and pictures from the Beqa’ot settlement show Mehadrin packaging mislabeled as produce of Israel.

Two ISM activists facing deportation after new protest village ‘Canaan’ — update
ISM 10 Feb — All Palestinian activists arrested at protest village  ‘Canaan ‘ released ISM activist on huger strike! Dave and Marco are being held in Givon prison and are expecting deportation. One of them, Marco Di Renzo (54), has decided to start a hunger strike from tonight in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners and to protest against his illegitimate deportation. He will also stop taking his blood pressure medication, which is life threatening for the condition he lives with, thyroidectomy. The charges against him are being in a closed military area and assaulting a soldier with his camera, which is completely untrue.

Podcast: Brooklyn College BDS event ‘a victory’ for free speech, academic freedom and Palestine solidarity movement
8 Feb  — This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast: Zionist bullies and local officials team up in an attempt to censor an event on the Israel boycott movement at Brooklyn College in New York, we’ll speak with reporter Alex Kane of Mondoweiss in New York City to talk about the attacks by anti-Palestinian leaders and their boycott smear campaign, and what this means in the context of growing support for the Palestine solidarity movement;

Israel lobby gave victory to BDS by crazed reaction to Brooklyn event
Mondoweiss 9 Feb by Philip Weiss — A lot of folks are passing around an excellent column by Chemi Shalev in Haaretz saying that the Israel lobby is overreaching; it has so nakedly manipulated the US discourse, from the Brooklyn College flap to the Chuck Hagel hearing to the presidential debates of last fall, that it’s exposing itself in the eyes of sensible people and will ultimately undermine US support for Israel: “Far more Americans know of the Palestinian BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement today than did a week ago. Many millions of people have been exposed for the first time to the idea that Israel should be boycotted, divested and sanctioned for its occupation of the territories. Many more Americans, one can safely assume, have formed a positive image of the BDS movement than those who have now turned against it…”

Announcing 9th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (Feb-March 2013)
Apartheid Week  We are excited to announce the upcoming 9th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) starting late February in Europe and moving to various countries through the month of March. Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, film screenings, multimedia displays and boycott of Israel actions) held in cities and campuses across the globe. Last year’s IAW was incredibly successful with over 215 cities participating worldwide. IAW seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians and to build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign. To accommodate various university schedules and cities from around the world, IAW will take place in slightly different weeks but all in the months of February and March. Here is a list of dates for regions confirmed so far: Europe: February 25 – March 10 Palestine: 8 – 15 March United States: March 4 – 8 Canada: March 4 – 8 South Africa: March 11 – 17

UK supermarket sells fruit from illegal settlement as ‘made in Israel’
EI 7 Feb by Michael Deas — Photo: A package for Morrisons’ own-brand Medjoul Dates indicates that they come from Israel, when they have really been grown on an illegal settlement — In another sign that the grassroots campaign for a boycott of Israel has begun to influence mainstream politics, the European Union is currently discussing introducing rules forbidding the sale of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank with labels claiming that they are “made in Israel.” This would be a welcome step in many ways. It would take us closer to a ban on financial flows with settlements and be the most concrete step that most European governments have so far taken to display their opposition to Israel’s endless colonization of Palestinian territory. Israel is so aware of its increasing isolation that even this limited move would probably cause a sizable stir. When South Africa announced it was following Denmark and the UK in introducing labeling guidance, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon showed how hurt his government was by the move by retorting that “South Africa remains an apartheid state.”

Watch: BDS campaigner Omar Barghouti lecture and conversation with Amy Goodman in Santa Fe
EI 10 Feb by Ali Abunimah — On 1 February 2013, Omar Barghouti, a founder of the Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel, spoke in Santa Fe sponsored by the Lannan Foundation as part of its In Pursuit of Cultural Freedom series. This was followed by a conversation between Barghouti and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. These are great videos to watch whether you know a lot or a little about the BDS movement. The conversation between Barghouti and Goodman, in particular, focuses on questions about academic and cultural boycott. Barghouti also spoke about the “thuggish” efforts in the United States to shut down BDS efforts and likened some critics of BDS to the “white liberals” Martin Luther King Jr. once identified as an obstacle to the movement for Civil Rights.

Revealed: UK anti-Semitism watchdog charity helps lead Israel anti-boycott group
EI 8 Feb by Asa Winstanley — The Community Security Trust, or CST, is a British charity which claims a singular dedication to monitoring and combating anti-semitism. But The Electronic Intifada has learned of the CST’s leading role in a group whose stated aims are to fight boycotts of Israel and “opposing anti-Zionist activity.”

Spanish author says he’ll accept Jerusalem prize
AP/JTA 10 Feb — Acclaimed Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina said Sunday he would accept a prestigious Israeli award given to authors despite calls from pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the Jewish state. Molina, 57, said he did not believe that accepting the award made him an ‘accomplice’ in Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.

Trends to expect from BDS and how to klap them
Israel’s Top Anti-BDS Man — MyShtetl 6 Feb by Ant Katz — Amir Sagie, the director, civil society affairs department, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the Keynote Guest speaker at Sunday’s overwhelmingly successful Israel Advocacy Seminar in Joburg. This speech, by the man at the forefront of combating the global BDS movement, was extremely informative and useful to all present – given that it was an Israel advocacy seminar. MyShtetl took a complete transcript of the speech. However, the information has been edited to exclude strategically sensitive information from the eyes of anti-Israel forces who are becoming increasingly common users of the website.

Political / Economic News

No sign of breakthrough after Cairo unity summit
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Palestinian political parties meeting in Cairo this week over reconciliation failed to reach any concrete outcomes, participants in the summit told Ma‘an on Sunday. Political leaders met in Cairo on Thursday and Friday for talks on the May 2011 deal to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, which has never been implemented. The politicians were discussing reformulation of the PLO, which currently does not include Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and establishing a temporary government to prepare for fresh national elections and end the West Bank-Gaza division.

Protest in Ramallah calls for political unity
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Representatives from political parties and social organizations staged a sit-in strike in Ramallah on Sunday to call for an end to political divisions. Protesters chanted slogans and waved flags in Al-Manara square, calling on Hamas and Fatah to unite.

PA minister: Discussions underway over constitution
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — The PA Ministry of Justice is considering setting up a committee to discuss the Palestinian constitution, the justice minister said Sunday.

Elections commission set to update Gaza register
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 9 Feb — The Central Elections Commission is ready to begin updating electoral registers in the Gaza Strip, the organization’s executive director said Saturday. Hisham Kahil said the commission has set up 256 centers for voter registration in Gaza, mainly in governmental and UN schools. All voters aged 17 and older can register between Monday and Friday, he said. In addition, the CEC is updating the West Bank register in 373 centers across the territory. The roll has not been updated in Gaza since Jan. 2005.

Hamas is expected to dominate PLO elections
MEMO 9 Feb — A senior Fatah official has said that he expects Hamas to win “an overwhelming majority” in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation elections if they are carried out in a free and democratic fashion. Nabeel Amre’s comments were reported by the Palestinian Al-Resaleh newspaper on Thursday. Mr Amre is the information and media advisor for Palestinian Authority President, and PLO Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. If and when free elections are held, he told Al-Resalah, the real size of the factions’ support will be made clear. “Some of the Palestinian parties are living on the legacy of their past. They do not have any real presence among Palestinians today.”

Group: PA losing millions of dollars due to border inefficiency
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 8 Feb — The Palestinian Authority is missing out on millions of dollars in border fees each year as it failed to demand Israel stick to revenue-sharing agreements and has not put in place the proper financial controls, according to a transparency watchdog. Between January 2008 and January 2012 the government lost 160 million shekels ($43 million) in border fees, the Transparency International chapter in Palestine said this week. According to a Palestinian-Israeli accord, the exit tax should be shared between Israel, at $14, and Palestine, at $12, the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability (Aman) study said.

Health workers to escalate strike action
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — Health workers in the West Bank will escalate their strike action next week, their union said on Sunday. Osama al-Najjar, the head of the healthcare union, said from Feb. 17, the health sector will go on full strike, with the exception of one day per week in order to fulfill their responsibilities to the population … Al-Najjar said the government had failed to respond to their demands, which concern budget cuts affecting the health sector.

Fayyad: No comment on Gaza ‘aid offer’
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 10 Feb — PA prime minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday refused to comment on a Gaza official’s offer to rescue the West Bank based economy from financial crisis. Asked by a Ma‘an correspondent as to his view on the offer, Fayyad laughed, saying “I refuse to comment, what do you want me to say in response?” Deputy premier in Gaza Ziad al-Thatha said Friday that the “partially self-sufficient” Gaza Strip would come to the West Bank’s aid.

Cyprus upgrades Palestine’s diplomatic status to embassy
NICOSIA (WAFA) 9 Feb – Cyprus announced on Friday that it has decided to upgrade the status of Palestine’s diplomatic office in Nicosia from a mission to an embassy. President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed from Cairo the Cypriot decision.

Obama to offer Netanyahu pressures on Iran for ceding to Palestinians
TEL AVIV (WAFA) 10 Feb — U.S. President Barack Obama, during his expected upcoming visit to the area, will suggest to Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu to intensify pressures on Iran in exchange with a ceding to Palestinians, Sunday said Israeli daily newspaper, Maarif.  The Israeli paper that reported from the British daily, The Sunday Times, said Obama will arrive with “a carrot and a stick” policy in an attempt to persuade Israelis to negotiate with Palestinians regarding borders and security issues. According to Maarif, The Sunday Times quoted Aaron David Miller, a U.S. State Department adviser on Middle East affairs, saying “Barack Obama does not want to be the American president on whose watch Iran acquires a nuclear weapon or be accused of presiding over the demise of what’s left of the two-state solution.”

Israel’s Lieberman says Palestinian peace accord impossible
Jerusalem (Reuters) 9 Feb -by Dan Williams –  Israel has no chance of signing a permanent peace accord with the Palestinians and should instead seek a long-term interim deal, the most powerful political partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday. The remarks by Avigdor Lieberman, an ultranationalist whose joint party list with Netanyahu narrowly won a January 22 election while centrist challengers made surprise gains, seemed designed to dampen expectations at home and abroad of fresh peacemaking. A spring visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by U.S. President Barack Obama, announced this week, has stirred speculation that foreign pressure for a diplomatic breakthrough could build – though Washington played down that possibility.

Other news

President to pardon Facebook joker
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 10 Feb  — President Mahmoud Abbas will pardon a 26-year-old man sentenced to a year in jail for insulting the president on Facebook, Abbas’ legal adviser said Thursday … Al-Ouri clarified that the charge against 26-year-old Anas Awwad was brought by the public rights department and not the president. Awwad still has the right to appeal, but he will be pardoned as soon as the decision by a Nablus magistrates court is final … Abbas was angered at the sentence issued by the court, al-Ouri said. Awwad’s father had asked the president to intervene in the case. “My son only commented on Facebook. You know how young people comment,” he said.

Yasser Arafat’s widow says her marriage was ‘a big mistake’
Guardian 10 Feb by Harriet Sherwood — Yasser Arafat‘s widow has said she tried to leave her husband hundreds of times and that had she known what marriage to the Palestinian leader would be like, she would never have gone through with it. Suha Arafat told the Turkish newspaper Sabah that she had loved her husband but the marriage “was a big mistake and I regret it”. “I know there were a lot of women that wanted to marry Arafat, but he wanted only me. It was my fate,” she said. The couple married secretly in Tunisia in 1990, when Suha was 27 and Arafat 61. Their daughter Zahwa was born five years later … Suha converted from Christianity to Islam at the time of her marriage. She led an isolated life for security reasons, she said.

Israel football club Beitar Jerusalem office torched
BBC 8 Feb — The offices of Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem have been damaged by fire in a suspected arson attack. The blaze came a day after four fans were charged over racist chanting against the club’s recruitment of Muslim players. No-one was hurt in the blaze but the club’s administrative offices suffered extensive damage, police said.

Head of Chechnya to attend Beitar’s soccer game Sunday
Times of Israel 9 Feb — Leader of Russian republic reportedly coming in light of fans’ racist outrage over club’s signing of two Muslim Chechen players — Ramzan Kadyrov’s trip was scheduled to assuage tensions in light of the ongoing conflict between the soccer club and parts of its fan base over the signing of two Muslim Chechen players, according to Israel Radio. His mission was also billed as an effort to increase tolerance between Jews and Muslims.

Analysis / Opinion / Interviews

‘Gaza is a Bantustan’: author Samah Sabawi interviewed
[read her 5 Jan Al Jazeera article “Israel’s Gaza Bantustan”] EI 10 Feb by Joe Catron — …A Palestinian-Australian with Canadian citizenship, Sabawi is the author of three plays — Cries from the Land, Three Wishes and Tales of a City by the Sea. She has also co-written the book The Journey to Peace in Palestine: From the Song of Deborah to the Simpsons. As well as being a vocal campaigner on the right of return for Palestinian refugees, Sabawi is a policy advisor for the Palestinian “think tank” Al-Shabaka. Joe Catron interviewed Sabawi during her trip to Gaza.Joe Catron: Israel forced your family into exile in 1967, the year you were born, after occupying the Gaza Strip. How many times have you returned since then, and what is it like coming home? Samah Sabawi: I returned to Gaza the first time when I was six years old. It was a huge deal. We needed to get permits from Israel. We got strip-searched, all of us, including myself, coming in. The visit was very emotional for my dad. I remember tears would just stream down his face.

Oscar-nominated films prove Israel is an apartheid state / Eli Ungar-Sargon
Los Angeles (EI) 7 Feb — Award season is in full swing in Los Angeles, and, for the first time in the history of the Academy Awards, two films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are in competition for best documentary feature. For those of us invested in a just resolution to the conflict, a closer reading of these films can help decipher the meaning of this extraordinary attention. The Gatekeepers is a classical talking-heads documentary. What sets it apart from other films in this genre is the identity of the heads doing the talking: six men who have led Israel’s Shin Bet, or Internal Security Service, from the early days of the state until the present … In contrast, 5 Broken Cameras is all about the Palestinian perspective. The footage that co-director Emad Burnat shot over five years at the weekly unarmed demonstrations in his village of Bil‘in, has an immediacy that shatters the high production value seductions of The Gatekeepers. Made for a fraction of the cost that it took to produce that film, 5 Broken Cameras is like a punch to the gut. There is almost no historical context provided, but Burnat’s narration achieves an emotional resonance that only a first-person account can … So what does the nomination of these two films tell us about where our culture stands on the issue of Israel and the Palestinians? Like the recent diplomatic revolt at the UN which led to the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state, I believe this to be a sign that the world is finally waking up to the fact that something is rotten in the State of Israel … The problem is Israeli ethnocracy.

Hamas weighs options for recognizing Israel / Adnan Abu Amerl
Al-Monitor 8 Feb — Recently, a lot has been said — and a lot of denials have been issued — about Hamas recognizing a two-state solution. It appears that Hamas is still vacillating between explicitly and implicitly recognizing Israel. Hamas realizes that recognizing Israel would open up the world’s doors to the movement. At the same time, Hamas knows that such a move would be seen as a betrayal by the movement’s supporters, both inside and outside Palestine. As Hamas well knows, its legitimacy derives from its vocal support for armed struggle within the complicated Palestinian reality. Hamas also knows that it will pay a heavy price if it is seen to be agreeing to international conditions. The cost will not only be political, but also ideological.

Only by fear of international sanctions / Yitzhak Laor
Haaretz 11 Feb — The time has come to encourage the international community to fight Israeli intransigence and pressure Israel to give up on the occupied territories and its residents, who lack a voice from the perspective of our democracy — It’s doubtful if there was such foolishness in global politics since World War II as the settlement enterprise. The fact that the Israeli political leadership has engaged in it since 1967 makes the pill all the more bitter … The army rushed to refer to the territories by their biblical names Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They called residents of the territories “locals,” as if to say they lacked any other connection to land, people, and history. They were quickly treated as a danger during the process of parceling out their privately held land, a process in which an entire people was humiliated for decades. Hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, masses of them methodically tortured, tried in kangaroo courts, put under curfew in honor of our holidays, and had their land expropriated. An entire nation was subjected to hunger, siege, humiliation of parents in front of their children, killing without distinction, as well as – how could it be otherwise? – being preached to about the injustice of resistance. Israel created with its own hands the security threat and through that threat the right controls us. (listserv) (archive)

About Kate

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

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