Prisoners / Hunger strikers / Court actions
Israeli court refuses to release Al-Eesawy, on 210th day of hunger strike
IMEMC 19 Feb — On Tuesday February 19, head of the Legal Unit of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Lawyer Jawad Boulos, reported that the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem rejected an appeal for the release of hunger striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy [al-Issawi]. Boulos said that the court decided to keep Al-Eesawy in custody until an official court ruling is reached within a month of this date. Boulos said that Al-Eesawy was brought to the courtroom in a wheelchair, surrounded by dozens of armed Israeli guards, and when the judge asked him about ‘how he feels’ he could barely utter a word due to his near-death condition resulting from his extended hunger strike.
Sharawna moved to Soroka hospital
IMEMC 18 Feb — Palestinian Minister of Detainees, Issa Qaraqe‘, reported Sunday that hunger striking detainee, Ayman Sharawna, was moved to the Soroka Israel hospital in Be’er As-Sabe‘ (Beersheba), due to a serious deterioration in his health condition. Qaraqe‘ told the Palestine News & Info Agency (WAFA) that the Ministry’s lawyer, Rami Al-Alami, visited at Sharawna, who was in solitary confinement in an Israeli prison before he was moved to the Soroka Israeli hospital after suffering a serious setback. Qaraqe‘ added that, last week, Sharawna fell into a coma, and when he regained consciousness, he suffered from extreme pain to several parts of his body, and was not able to move any part of his body.
As Palestinian hunger strikes come to a head, world begins to take notice
972blog 18 Feb by Michael Omer-Man — All anyone in Israel has spoken about for the past week is ‘Prisoner X,’ the Jewish-Israeli-Australian Mossad agent held secretly by his own country, who supposedly took his own life in prison two years ago. But only a few miles from Israeli newsrooms in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, outrage over a different type of prisoner in Israeli jails has been mounting for months and is coming to a head. Four Palestinian men in Israeli prisons are currently in the late stages of prolonged hunger strikes protesting the legal basis of their imprisonment: administrative detention and military committee sentencing decisions based on secret evidence. Both amount to imprisonment without knowledge of what they are accused and without the right to a trial … Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets throughout the West Bank in recent weeks, leading to violent clashes with the IDF and including protests that shut down the Ramallah offices of the Red Cross and UN. …
Pressure mounts on Israel over Palestinian prisoner fast
Reuters 19 Feb — Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails declared a one-day fast on Tuesday in solidarity with four inmates whose hunger strike has fuelled anti-Israel protests in the occupied West Bank. Samer al-Issawi, one of the four Palestinians who have been on hunger strike, has been refusing food, intermittently, for more than 200 days. His family says his health has deteriorated sharply. The prisoners’ campaign for better conditions and against detention without trial has touched off violent protests over the past several weeks outside an Israeli military prison and in West Bank towns. In the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Jihad group said a truce with Israel that ended eight days of fighting in November could unravel if any hunger striker died … The Quartet of Middle East negotiators – the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union – and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have expressed concern at the hunger strike. In a statement on Monday, France’s Foreign Ministry urged Israel “to be sensitive to the risk of a tragic outcome and to take appropriate measures as a matter of urgency”.
Haaretz editorial: Draconian arrests of Palestinians
20 Feb — There is no measure of justice or reason in jailing a man for years because he visited an adjacent neighborhood or even assumed political activity — Fourteen Palestinians freed in the Gilad Shalit deal were arrested by the IDF and Shin Bet security service. Amira Hass reported on Sunday in Haaretz that five of them might serve from 16 to 28 years in prison due to secret or negligible offenses they are accused of committing after their release. This revolving door system is not only inhuman in itself, it also undermines the agreements Israel signed and will make future deals much harder to achieve. The arrest of the 14 Palestinians was possible due to the confidential 2009 changes in the military law, (decree 1651), which were introduced as the negotiations were being held. These changes allow the IDF and Shin Bet to re-arrest any person released before the end of his original term, following offenses that do not involve terrorist actions, such as traffic violations, participating in illegal demonstrations or illegal entry to Israel − and that based on confidential evidence. This can lead to imprisonment for decades.
Deported ex-captive launches a hunger strike in solidarity with prisoners
JENIN, NAZARETH (PIC) 18 Feb — Akram Anteer, a liberated prisoner deported to Germany, announced on Monday entering an open-ended hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails, despite his illness … Akram was arrested by the occupation authorities after being wounded in the Jenin refugee camp. He served 7 years in Israeli jails after which he was deported to Germany, in 2009, to receive treatment in a hospital in Berlin.
Israeli court acquits army, justifies its killing of Palestinian family
GAZA (PIC) 18 Feb — An Israeli court rejected a Palestinian lawsuit filed against the Israeli army regarding its killing of civilians and children from one family in an aerial attack on their house during the 2009 war on the Gaza Strip, and also fined the plaintiffs. The Israeli central court in Beersheba two weeks ago refused the complaint that was filed by Al-Mizan Center for Human Rights against the Israeli army about its bombing of a civilian house belonging to Fayez Saleha on January 9, 2009. The court also decided to fine the plaintiffs 20,000 shekels as expenses for its adjudication. The court acquitted the Israeli army and claimed that despite the proved failure of the army to give the residents the chance to leave their house, the Israeli aerial attack happened during wartime.
Israeli prison guards beat, arrest mother of prisoner
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 19 Feb — Israeli prison guards beat the mother of prisoner Haithem Al-Batat during a visit to her son in Raymon jail on Monday afternoon. Sources close to the 55-year-old mother said that she was beaten then taken to a detention center with no reason given.
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested Haithem Al-Batat, from Daheria town south of Al-Khalil, eight years ago. Batat, 30, was sentenced to two life sentences plus 30 years for affiliation with Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and for launching operations against the IOF.
Family visits to prisoners is a journey of suffering and humiliation
NABLUS (PIC) 19 Feb — Palestinian prisoners’ families have complained against the ill-treatment of the Israeli occupation during their visits to their sons in Israeli prisons. At each visit to the Israeli jails, where thousands of Palestinian prisoners are held, Israeli authorities practiced harassment against the prisoners’ families in an attempt to pressure them and their detained sons, Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies stated. One of the most important problems faced by the prisoners’ families is the delays on the road, where the families are forced to wait at the checkpoints for long hours as vehicles carrying Palestinians have to queue for checks by occupation soldiers. In addition, the Israeli forces only open one entrance, forcing the families to wait for hours to pass through the checkpoint despite the presence of elderly people. The families told Ahrar center that the situation inside the Israeli prisons is terribly bad where there is no place to sit in or any public facilities. Some families are forced to remain till the evening and to reach their homes in the middle of the night in many cases. The families also complained against the violent and humiliating strip searches especially against women … The center pointed out to the Israeli provocative practices during the visit, where they deliberately delay bringing the prisoners to the visiting room to waste time, in addition to the manipulation with the phone used between the prisoner and the visitors, like raising and lowering volume or making the line crackly.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid
Settlers erect new outpost on Palestinian village land to block court-ordered wall reroute
EI 18 Feb by Adri Nieuwhof — Israel continued its colonization of Palestinian land with the erection of a new settler outpost on the land of a West Bank village at the end of last month. The Palestinian village of Jayyous is situated close to the town of Qalqilya. The new outpost of seven caravans was immediately connected to the water system of nearby settlement Zufim which was constructed with financial aid from Africa Israel’s owner Lev Leviev. The settlers have erected the outpost in response to a lawsuit in which the farmers of Jayyous “regained” 6,200 dunums of the 8,600 dunums of fertile lands that were confiscated by Israel during the construction of the wall in 2002 (a dunam is 1000 square meters [or 1/4 acre]). Ghassan Harami, head of Jayyous village council, told the WAFA news agency that the caravans were set up under the protection of the Israeli army. The land in the area was razed and the caravans were connected with electricity, according to Harami.
Barrier’s extension could separate West Bank Salesians from communities
BEIT JALLA, West Bank (CNS) 18 Feb — Just over the ridge, not far from where Father Ibrahim Shomali celebrated Mass on a recent Friday afternoon, is the Israeli settlement of Har Gilo. Nearby, across the Cremisan Valley, is Gilo, another Israeli settlement. It was built decades ago on land that was part of Beit Jalla, a largely Christian Palestinian town six miles south of Jerusalem and three miles west of Bethlehem. Israelis consider Har Gilo and Gilo neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Between the two settlements, hidden behind trees, is a 150-year-old community of Salesians. The priests and brothers there run the West Bank’s only winery, the Cremisan Cellars. Not far away is the convent of the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan, who operate an elementary school and after-school programs for 400 children. As near as they are, the two religious communities may end up on opposite sides of an extension of the Israeli-Palestinian separation barrier.
Soldiers order Bethlehem villagers to evict their land
IMEMC 18 Feb — Israeli soldiers handed two Palestinians from Nahhalin village, west of Bethlehem, military warrants ordering them to leave their own lands as the Israeli army intends to take the lands away under the claim of “military considerations”. Head of the Nahhalin Village Council, Jamal Najajra, told the Radio Bethlehem 2000, that the villagers found military orders placed on their lands in the areas of Ein Fares, Al-Kabbarat, Qornat Ad-Da’mas, Wadi Salem, near Beitar Elit, Daniel and Gahovut settlements. The military orders instruct the residents that they are not allowed to enter these areas, not allowed to plow or plant them, and also informed them that the army also intends to illegally confiscate another 40-dunam section that belong to the families of Fannoun, Zayed and Ghayata.
Israel issues order to seize 120 dunams of Yatta land
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — Israeli forces on Monday issued orders to seize 120 dunams of land in an area near Yatta [near Hebron], a local official said. Coordinator of the popular committee against settlements in Yatta, Rateb al-Jbour, told Ma‘an that Israeli authorities want to seize Hussein Ahmad Hamamdeh’s land on the pretext that it is located near an Israeli settlement outpost, Mitzpe Yair. Israel plans to remove all Palestinians from the area east of Yatta, he added.
IOF destroys house in Beit Hanina, confiscates land in Bethlehem
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 18 Feb — Israeli occupation bulldozers demolished on Monday morning the Tantash family’s house in Beit Hanina, north of Jerusalem, under the pretext of being built without permit. The IOF has surrounded the house and prevented residents from approaching it and blocked the roads leading to the neighborhood to prevent journalists from reaching the scene. Wadi al-Hilweh Information Center stated that 12 family members are living in the house in an area of about 130 square meters, noting that the home was built before 12 years. The center said that the house’s owner is physically disabled, noting that the house is considered a shelter for two families. The statement emphasized that the demolition process was implemented without previous notification, warning against an Israeli scheme to demolish the whole neighborhood in favor of a settler road No. 21.
Kiryat Arba settlers inaugurate new settler road
AL-KHALIL(PIC) 18 Feb — Settlers of Kiryat Arba settlement and Givat Kharsina outpost in al-Khalil have inaugurated a settlement road linking the outpost and the neighboring mountain. Al-Khalil Rehabilitation Committee said in a statement on Monday that the settlers have swept this month Palestinian land as a prelude to establish the road on the land of the citizens Hossam and Majed Abu Karsh Jaber, and Majed Jaber and Saher Jaber.
Settlement construction in ‘Beit Haggai’ south of al-Khalil
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 19 Feb — Settlement construction and expansion are continued at the entrance to the settlement of ‘Beit Haggai’ south of al-Khalil since a few days ago, eyewitnesses confirmed on Tuesday. The sources told the PIC reporter that building works were reported in the settlement of ‘Beit Haggai’, established on lands south of al-Khalil, where Israeli bulldozers and tankers were conducting expansion works at the settlement’s entrance.
‘Price tag’ attackers hit West Bank town of Yasouf for second time
972blog 19 Feb by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — Yesterday morning a “price tag” pogrom took place in the Palestinian village of Yasouf. If the name Yasouf is vaguely familiar to you, it’s probably because in 2009 it became the target of the most famous price tag attack: the burning of its mosque. It’s worth mentioning the response of the Shomron local settler council at the time (Hebrew): it called the attack an “act of madmen or a provocation, ” piously adding that it hoped the police would find those responsible. That was two years before Shahar Ginossar wrote in an investigative report for Yedioth Ahronot that the Shomron local council created the “price tag” policy, and even funded it. The “price tag” people are the military arm of the settlement establishment, the hoodlums who are used when violence and plausible deniability are necessary. “Price tag” attacks have become so common that they’re barely reported; they used to make headlines, but the attack in Yasouf yesterday was barely worthy of a newsflash.
IOF notifies the demolition of 9 Palestinian houses near Jericho
JERICHO (PIC) 19 Feb — Palestinian sources in the eastern city of Jericho in the occupied West Bank said that large Israeli military forces, stormed on Tuesday morning, the village of Fasayel, north of Jericho, and notified nine families of intention to demolish their houses. Head of the village council, Ibrahim Abayat pointed out that the occupation forces arrested a Palestinian citizen in the village after seizing his private car.
The ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley
[with ARIJ map] Mondoweiss 19 Feb by James Elliott — Consider the following quotation, taking into account its moral, political and legal implications: ‘You don’t simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away … I prefer to advocate a more positive policy, to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave’ (PDF) This is Ariel Sharon, former Prime Minister of Israel, speaking about the Palestinians who inhabit Israel’s most prized territory after Jerusalem — the Jordan Valley. Just over a quarter of the West Bank and stretching 70km along the River Jordan from the Dead Sea in the south to Israel’s border in the north, the Jordan Valley is now home to some 50,000 Palestinians and over 9,000 Israeli-Jewish settlers, who live in what one Palestinian NGO described as ‘Parallel Realities’. Israel has long-coveted the Jordan Valley. Shortly after the Knesset approved Oslo II, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared, “the security border to protect the State of Israel will be set in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of this term.”
‘Sharon was about to leave two-thirds of the West Bank’
Times of Israel 19 Feb by Elhanan Miller — Prime minister was drafting plan for a unilateral pullout when he fell ill, says his former adviser Rafi Eitan, and Netanyahu should tell Obama he’s ready for similar ‘mosaic separation’
Sheikh Bakirat: Israel seeks to end Jordan’s mandate of the Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 19 Feb — Sheikh Najeh Bakirat, director of the Aqsa Mosque, warned that the Israeli occupation regime is trying to take full control of the Mosque and end Jordan’s religious and administrative responsibility for the Islamic holy sites in occupied Jerusalem … “There are several sides to talk about regarding this topic. If we wanted to talk about the issue of building, maintenance and repairs, considering that the Aqsa Mosque is old and needs permanent care, there are restrictions and obstructions … If we allowed them to build at Al-Maghariba Gate, they would dare to build at the Aqsa Mosque tomorrow, so we are fully aware that the occupation makes steps forward day by day and raise the level of its violations from a minor level to a higher one, the director of the Aqsa Mosque warned.
Violence / Raids / Suppression of protests / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Youth injured after being rammed by settler’s vehicle in Bethlehem
IMEMC — Monday evening February 18; In another hit and run incident, a Palestinian youth was injured after being rammed by a settler’s vehicle in Wad Fookin [or Wadi Fukin], west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Wad Fookin, Ibrahim Manasra, told the Radio Bethlehem 2000 that the settler rammed the youth, and drove away without even stopping or slowing down. The injured Palestinian youth, Majd Mohammad Manasra, suffered various cuts and bruises, and was moved to the Bethlehem Government Hospital, in Bethlehem. Settlers are involved in dozens of similar incidents, some led to fatalities, and largely escape without being held accountable for their crimes. [list of recent such incidents follows]
20 Palestinians wounded during clashes with IOF
RAMALLAH, AL-KHALIL (PIC) 19 Feb — More than 20 Palestinian citizens were wounded in the clashes that broke out on Tuesday afternoon in front of Ofer prison, after a march organized by Birzeit University students in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Palestinian Red Crescent sources said that two of the wounded were shot by Israeli live bullets in the feet, and that the rest of the injuries were caused by rubber bullets. The occupation forces were deployed on the hill overlooking the Ofer prison to the south of Ramallah shortly before the arrival of the demonstrators, and started firing tear gas grenades at them.
Confrontations and cases of suffocation in Beit Ummar
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 19 Feb — Violent clashes broke out on Tuesday in the town of Beit Ummar, near al-Khalil in southern West Bank after Israeli soldiers attacked an elementary school for girls. A number of Palestinian youths threw stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades and rubber bullets, causing a number of citizens and students to suffocate. Muhammad Ayad Awad, the spokesman for the Popular Committee against the settlement in Beit Ummar, said in a statement that a baby, aged 3 months, and his mother suffered serious suffocation and were transferred to the hospital. The clashes were concentrated in the area of Assida. The headmaster suspended school after consulting the mayor of Beit Ummar, who has ensured for the girls a safe exit from the school.
Confrontations erupt in Arroub camp on Sunday and Monday
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 18 Feb — Violent clashes erupted between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers on Sunday evening, in ‘Arroub refugee camp north of the city of al-Khalil in the southern West Bank, after Israeli soldiers stormed a number of sections of the Negev desert prison. An eyewitness told PIC’s reporter that the Israeli occupation forces and a number of infantry soldiers raided neighborhoods in the camp and deliberately fired tear gas and stun grenades towards the young people and the Palestinian houses.
Clashes in West Bank on anniversary of Ibrahim Mosque massacre
Antiwa4 18 Feb by Jason Ditz — Clashes erupted in the West Bank today on the 19th anniversary of the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, in which settler Baruch Goldstein attacked Palestinians at the Ibrahim Mosque, killing 29 and wounding 125 others. Several incidents were reported, including stones thrown at Israeli highways and settlers slashing tires in a Palestinian village;. An Israeli soldier was hit with a marble by a Palestinian at the al-‘Arrub refugee camp, and soldiers shot the Palestinian, wounding him. Most of the incidents involved attacks on private property, with Palestinians damaging a vineyard near a settlement and settlers uprooting a number of olive trees in a nearby village.
IOF soldiers round up six West Bankers
WEST BANK (PIC) 18 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up six Palestinians in various West Bank areas over the past 24 hours in line with its daily campaigns of arrests. Local sources said that IOF troops arrested 21-year-old Hamza Malash after storming his family home in ‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem before dawn Monday…
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers in 15 armored vehicles forced their way into Bazzariye village, north west of Nablus, and nabbed two young men after breaking into their homes. Sources in the village said that the soldiers stormed many houses in the village and searched them before withdrawing by dawn Monday.
In Al-Khalil, undercover Israeli soldiers kidnapped a Palestinian youth, Riyadh Sami Jaradat, from his workplace in a petrol station in Sa‘eer villages, east of Al-Khalil, on Sunday night and confiscated films from monitoring cameras in its vicinity. Locals said that the same force kidnapped another young man in the village called Arafat Shahin Jaradat.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers stormed Beit Ummar village to the north of Al-Khalil at dawn Monday and burst into a number of houses and searched them. Mohammed Awad, an activist against settlement in the village, said that the soldiers fired gas bombs in front of the house of Nasser Abu Hashim before breaking into it. He said that the soldiers also searched the home of Jamal Abu Mariya and arrested his 17-year-old son Mohammed. He added that Mohammed was previously imprisoned in Israeli jail for five months when he was only 14 years old. [Ma‘an: An Israeli army spokeswoman said 10 people were detained overnight for “illegal activity,” without providing further details. Two people were detained near Jenin, two in Nablus, two in Ramallah, three in Hebron and one in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, she said.]
Occupation summons 6 citizens from the south of the West Bank for interrogation
AL-KHALIL, JENIN (PIC) 19 Feb — The occupation forces summoned on Tuesday six citizens from al-Khalil and Bethlehem, in the southern the occupied West Bank, to the Israeli intelligence headquarters. A local source told PIC’s reporter that the IOF raided the area of al-Arous in Yatta, south of al-Khalil, and handed over to the liberated prisoner Zaid Ismail, 28, a summons to the intelligence office in Etzion, south of Bethlehem. The source added that the occupation troops raided and searched a number of houses in Tekoa and summoned 5 young men, from different areas in Bethlehem to the intelligence office in Etzion.
Two students arrested on return from Umra
Ramallah (PIC) 19 Feb — Two Palestinian students were arrested on their return from Saudi Arabia, where they performed Umra or minor pilgrimage, to the West Bank on Monday evening. Local sources said that Israeli intelligence detained Mohammed Zakarne, 23, and Mohammed Nazzal, 24, at the Karame bridge linking the West Bank to Jordan.
Sniper posts pic of child in crosshairs
JERUSALEM (ABC News) 18 Feb — A photo posted online by an Israeli soldier showing a child in the crosshairs of a rifle scope has created a firestorm on the internet, drawing widespread criticism. The photo was reportedly posted on Jan. 25 by Mor Ostrovski, 20, a member of an Israeli sniper unit. It shows crosshairs zeroed in on the back of the head of what appears to be a Palestinian boy in a village. The photo has since been taken down and Ostrovski’s account has been deactivated … The uproar over the photo follows another posted by an Israeli infantryman on Facebook around a week ago. In it, he mocked the four Palestinian prisoners he was guarding by posing bound and blindfolded next to them.
Two fishermen injured by army fire
IMEMC 19 Feb — Palestinian medical sources reported, on Monday evening, that two fishermen have been moderately injured by Israeli Navy fire on the Gaza shore, in As-Sudaniyya, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that the attack took place within the 3 nautical miles allocated by Israel for Gaza fishermen. As part of the ceasefire agreement that ended the Israeli war on Gaza in November 2012, Palestinian fishermen were allowed to fish within 6 nautical miles off the Gaza coast … Last week, the Israeli Navy opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats, and detained four fishermen, including two youths.
PCHR condemns the Israeli forces’ assaults on Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters
19 Feb — 2 Fishermen Arrested and Fishing Boat Confiscated — According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 10:15 on Monday [actually Tuesday], 19 February 2013, an Israeli gunboat attacked a Palestinian fishing boat, boarding 2 fishermen, sailing 1 nautical mile off al-Sundaniya shore in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli soldiers fired directly at the boat, cordoned it and ordered the fishermen on board to take their clothes off, jump into the water and swim towards the gunboat. Two fishermen were arrested: Mohammed Shihda Khalil Sa’d Allah (60) and his son, Mahmoud (23), from Jabalya town in the north of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces confiscated their fishing boat as well. Immediately after capturing them, the Israeli forces handcuffed the fishermen, blindfolded them and transported them to Ashdod seaport. Both fishermen are still under arrest.
It should be noted that this incident occurred at approximately 1 nautical mile, which is within the 6-nautical-mile limit allowed by the Israeli forces for the Palestinian fishermen to sail and fish at, under the terms of the truce deal signed between Israel and the Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian and international auspices on 22 November 2012.
IOF raids eastern Jabalia
GAZA (PIC) 19 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided an area east of Jabalia, in northern Gaza Strip, at an early morning hour on Tuesday. The PIC reporter said that IOF soldiers escorted four bulldozers near the eastern cemetery and combed and leveled lands of Palestinian citizens that are in proximity to the border areas.
He said that two other bulldozers and four armored vehicles were seen to the east of Shujaia suburb in Gaza city.
The incursions come in violation of the calm agreement, brokered with Egyptian mediation, that stipulated among other issues a complete halt to all IOF military operations in the besieged enclave.
IOF carry out small-scale incursion into Gaza amid intense gunfire
GAZA (PIC) 18 Feb — The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stationed in military towers opened fire intensely and randomly at a late hour on Sunday evening at Palestinian homes to the east of Azzeitoun [or Zeitoun] neighborhood to cover a limited incursion into the Gaza Strip. Eyewitnesses reported that extensive gunfire were seen coming from the military tower located to the east of Juhr Addik district in Gaza, affirming that a shower of bullets reached the residential areas and hit some houses directly. The shooting was intended to provide a force of troops and military vehicles with a land cover as they were advancing towardsMushtahi plastic factory in Juhr Addik area.
Aide: Egypt flooded tunnels to cut Gaza arms flow
Reuters 18 Feb — We don’t want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security.’ National security adviser to Morsi says, adding that president will respect peace treaty with Israel – Egypt will not tolerate a two-way flow of smuggled arms with the Gaza Strip that is destabilizing its Sinai peninsula, a senior aide to its Islamist president said, explaining why Egyptian forces flooded sub-border tunnels last week.
Closure of tunnels into Gaza will put thousands of Palestinians out of work
Reuters 18 Feb — The campaign to shut down smuggling tunnels under the border into the Gaza Strip threatens to put thousands of Palestinians out of work … Abu Bilal, who moves cement and gravel through the tunnels, said Egypt has flooded dozens of them in the past two weeks. If he lost his job in tunnels, his hopes of finding another job in Gaza Strip, where economists put the unemployment rate at more than 30 percent, would be slim.
Israel fortifies military bases, settlements close to Gaza border
IMEMC 18 Feb — Last Wednesday February 13, the Israeli army started work meant to secure and fortify military bases, and settlements, located on the eastern part of the Gaza Strip. Military sources that the army fortified all bases along the eastern border fence to prevent any Infiltration of Palestinian residents or fighters into the country, according to the sources. The work is being conducted along the 40-kilometer border area, it also include fortified roofing to the buildings and military bases in the area.
Official: Egyptian security delegation to visit Israel
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — An Egyptian delegation will visit Israel for talks on the ceasefire with Hamas and border restrictions, a security official said Monday. The delegation will demand Israel allows commercial goods to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border, the Egyptian official told Ma‘an … The Egyptian official told Ma‘an that an Israeli delegation had arrived in Cairo on Sunday. Egyptian media has reported that five Israeli officials visited Cairo on Sunday for the second time in a week. Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said Sunday that his party was holding indirect talks with Israel over the implementation of the ceasefire deal, brokered in Cairo in November.
Gaza court cuts sentence in Italian murder
Al Jazeera 19 Feb — A Gaza military court on Tuesday accepted an appeal by two militants convicted last year of kidnapping and murdering an Italian national, reducing their sentences from life to 15 years … The two men, both former police officers, were convicted in September 2012 for the kidnap and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni and sentenced to life in prison. They filed an appeal asking for the murder conviction to be dropped …There was no immediate reaction from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, whose lawyers had represented the Arrigoni family at the trial and which had welcomed the original sentence as “fair and legitimate.” At the time, the family had made a special request not to impose the death penalty. Arrigoni, 36, a long-time member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was kidnapped on April 14, 2011 by a previously unknown salafi group, which threatened to kill him unless Gaza’s Hamas leadership freed several of their fellow militants. But he was found hanged in an abandoned house in northern Gaza shortly after the video was posted.
European study denounces UN failure toward Palestinian refugees in Syria
LONDON (PIC) 18 Feb — Three European organizations issued an urgent appeal for legal and security protection for Palestinian refugees in the camps in Syria, and along its borders with Lebanon and Jordan. A statement issued by the three institutions, the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), Working group for Palestinians in Syria, and the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) on Monday, stated that 600,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria have been displaced since the outbreak of crisis in late March 2011, to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, and other places in Syria … The statement pointed out to Jordanian government’s violation to the international law by refusing to allow Palestinians to resort within its territory, while the Lebanese government refused to treat them as refugees … In Syria, the number of victims of Palestinian refugees has reached nearly 995 martyrs, in light of the continued military operations and the imposing siege.
Action group: The Syrian regime forces killed four Palestinians
DAMASCUS (PIC) 18 Feb — The action group for the Palestinians in Syria said that four Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria, including a child who died as a result of the blockade imposed on refugee camps. The action group explained that a child from Al-Yarmouk refugee camp named Osama Faraj died after he did not receive appropriate health care resulting from the tight blockade imposed on the camp. It added that two other refugees were also killed by projectile attacks on areas in Yarmouk camp and one was shot dead by a Syrian sniper.
Two Palestinian martyrs in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 19 Feb — The Working Group for Palestinians in Syria has confirmed that two Palestinians were killed, adding that a fire erupted in Syria’s Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. The Palestinian martyrs were Samir Kanaan from Handarat camp, he was killed by a sniper fire near Maysaloun bridge in Aleppo, in addition to Nawres Khaled Khalaf from Daraa refugee camp who was killed after being shot dead by Syrian security forces in Daraa city. Khan Sheih Palestinian refugee camp has also witnessed violent shelling marked by clashes, causing fear and panic among the residents.
Hamas calls for neutralizing Palestinian refugees in Lebanese tensions
BEIRUT (PIC) 19 Feb — Hamas has called for neutralizing the Palestinians residing in Lebanon from the prevailing political and security tensions in that Arab country. A delegation of Hamas led by Rafat Morra, the head of the Lebanese relations in the movement, visited on Tuesday former Lebanese parliament speaker Hussein Al-Husseini for a discussion of Lebanese developments … Hamas said that Palestinians in Lebanon reject sectarian provocations, adding that all Palestinian political factions were exerting great efforts to prevent such strife from spreading into the Palestinian arena.
Political, economic news
Election body: 258,000 voters registered in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — The Central Elections Commission said Monday that 258,000 people have registered to vote in the Gaza Strip. The roll has not been updated in Gaza since Jan. 2005 and the operation of the CEC in Gaza is seen as a boost to reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas. Jamil al-Khalidi, the regional director of the CEC in the Gaza Strip, told Ma‘an 91 percent of eligible voters have now registered. He highlighted that the CEC has decided to extend the registration period until Wednesday in light of the high enthusiasm, and said there were no contraventions during the registration process.
Official: Israel continues to withhold PA tax revenues
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 18 Feb — Israel continues to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, an official said Monday, as unions in the West Bank organize strike action this week over unpaid salaries. Ahmad al-Hilou, director of customs taxes and VAT, told Ma‘an that Israel was supposed to transfer December tax revenues to the PA last Thursday, “but the money is still withheld due to a political decision.” A PA delegation will meet with Israeli officials on Feb. 28 to discuss transferring January tax revenues, al-Hilou said. Under interim peace deals, Israel collects some $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, money the PA needs to pay public sector salaries. It began withholding the funds as punishment for the UN’s acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state in November.
PA: Civil servants to receive part of January wages
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — The Palestinian Authority will pay a portion of civil servant salaries for January in two days, according to a statement by the cabinet released after its weekly session Tuesday.
Islamic Jihad: Political detention hampers achieving reconciliation
GAZA (PIC) 18 Feb — Islamic Jihad movement said that force from the PA’s intelligence service arrested on Sunday night one of the movement leaders Engineer Ayman Tabich, 32, and his brother Khalid, from the town of Dura in al-Khalil in the southern occupied West Bank, and took them to an unknown destination. Jihad movement said in a statement on Monday that it is considering this act as gravely dangerous as it is against the national interest … The movement expressed surprise at the security services’ insistence on continuing the political arrests, despite the positive atmosphere brought about by the national reconciliation process.
‘Israeli security forces blindly cooperate with PA’
Ynet 18 Feb — Yossi Kuperwasser, who serves as director general at the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, leveled harsh criticism at the Shin Bet, and particularly at the National Security Agency’s actions under former chief Ami Ayalon. “The Israeli security forces cooperate blindly with their Palestinian counterparts,” a Monday report by Yedioth Ahronoth quoted him as saying.
Mishaal meets Erdoğan during Turkey visit
ISTANBUL (PIC) 19 Feb — Political bureau chairman of Hamas Khaled Mishaal met with Turkish prime minister Recep Erdoğan in Istanbul on Monday at the outset of an official visit to Turkey. The Mishaal-Erdoğan discussions focused on the Palestine question, Palestinian reconciliation, and developments in the region. Hamas delegation, also comprising four members of the political bureau, is expected to have a series of meetings with Turkish officials.
Analysis / Opinion
Video: Bringing ‘Five Broken Cameras’ to Israeli youth / Guy Davidi
[See what happens when young Israelis get to see this award-nominated film about the occupation and the role of the IDF they will soon be required to join, and realize how much they have been kept ignorant of. It’s quite encouraging.]
Despite international and local acclaim, Five Broken Cameras will not be screened as part of the educational cultural program in Israel. This powerful story can impact a new generation of Israelis, just before they are recruited to their mandatory military service. Engaging Israeli youth with this intimate, personal story of Palestinian nonviolent resistance offers a critical intervention before many of them find themselves stationed in a village like Bil’in, facing unarmed demonstrators. This generation offers a new opportunity for political change, in the face of diplomatic stalemate, growing extremism and escalated settlement expansion. With your support, we will create an extensive database of teachers willing to organize screenings in schools and in after-school centers, independently bringing Five Broken Cameras to Israeli youth.
Palestinian factions silent on Gaza-West Bank divide / Daoud Kuttab
Al-Monitor 18 Feb — The Erez checkpoint is a large, airport-like terminal with 12 passport booths, security cameras everywhere and men with guns topped with special targeting attachments. This is the crossing point into and out of the Gaza Strip from the Israeli side … This elaborate and bizarre crossing is no accident. It is the result of years of strategic planning by Israel to completely separate Gaza from the West Bank. This separation, made easier by mistakes committed at the Erez checkpoint itself, is part of the failure of the two Palestinian authorities — Hamas and Fatah — which have given up too easily on trying to ensure freedom of movement between the two Palestinian enclaves. Separating Gaza from the West Bank has probably been one of the more strategic successes that the state of Israel has accomplished in its decades of occupation … For Israel, this strategic separation denies one of the main prerequisites for a Palestinian state — contiguity. Not only are Gaza and the West Bank separated physically, but the long absence of human communication has resulted in a worrisome state of isolation that is always at the brink of explosion.
Pro-Israel group’s primer on West Bank settlements shows just how disastrous they are / Rabbi Eric H, Yoffie
Haaretz 18 Feb — Finally, a serious effort has been made to offer college students a compelling explanation of Israel’s settlement policy. To be sure, it did not succeed, but it was an effort worth making, if only to demonstrate just how vulnerable Israel is on the settlement issue. “Understanding The Settlements: A Primer” was recently produced by The David Project, a Boston-based, pro-Israel advocacy group that prepares Jewish students and others to make Israel’s case on campus … For all its care about context, the document informs us that religious settlers are devoted to the Land of Israel and not necessarily to the State of Israel; that they build new outposts regardless of security concerns or legality; that their religious beliefs take precedence over the needs of a democratic state; that the State of Israel has not kept its pledge to the United States to dismantle illegal outposts; that the population of settlements continues to grow; and on and on and on. This is the simple, brutal reality: Settlement policy is Israel’s Achilles heel. As we see from this report, it cannot be explained to those outside of Israel for the same reasons that for 45 years, Israelis have been unable to explain it to themselves. And it is not only those in on the center and left who understand this. Israel’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, has recently warned Prime Minister Netanyahu that it has become impossible to win approval for Israel’s settlement policy anywhere in the West.