Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Threats to non-Jewish sites
Israeli bulldozers demolish residential shed north of Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 Feb –Bulldozers of the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem demolished on Tuesday a residential shed in Al-Ashqariyeh area in Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of Jerusalem, under the pretext of “building without permit,” according to the owner. Ibrahim al- Kiswani told WAFA that Israeli bulldozers, protected by Israeli police, entered the area at dawn, surrounded the house and gave the family of six members 10 minutes to evacuate the shed before demolishing it over its contents. Kiswani said he had paid more than $160,000 trying to obtain a permit for his 170-square-meter home, which houses him, his wife and his four children, whose ages fall between 8 to 12. Kiswani’s 10-year-old child said, “I am very sad because the Israeli forces destroyed our home where we grew up without giving us a chance to get out our stuff, clothes and computer, which we used for fun and school.”
Israel bulldozes West Bank homes: VIDEO
Al-Akhbar 5 Feb — Israeli bulldozers on Tuesday demolished two West Bank homes under the pretext that they were built without permits, local media reported … In the same neighborhood [Al-Ashqariyeh] later Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished a building housing 30 members of the Castero family. One of the residents, Mohammed Saleh Castero, said that the 420 square meter, two-story building included four apartments. He added that the family was given a 50-day demolition notice, and was unable to secure a permit in that time … Roughly 94 percent of Palestinian applications for building permits are rejected, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The group estimates that Israeli authorities have demolished about 27,000 Palestinian structures in the West Bank since 1967. Ziad Hamouri, Director of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Human Rights, told WAFA that Jerusalem in particular is witnessing a “demographic war” by the occupation forces to make Palestinians a minority.
Israeli municipality hands Jerusalem residents demolition order
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 4 Feb — Crews from the Israeli municipality of West Jerusalem Monday handed a number of residents in a building in al-Sawwanah neighborhood in East Jerusalem a demolishing notice, said witnesses. Chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, and one of the residents told WAFA that Israeli authorities pasted demolishing notices at all the doors of all apartments, without specifying a date or a deadline, under the pretext of construction without obtaining a permit. Sabri said that the families living in the 16-storey building which houses about 80 individuals will be appointing a lawyer to represent the case against the Municipality’s arbitrary rule.
Meanwhile, Israeli police handed several residents in the town of Anata northeast of Jerusalem demolition notices of houses, stores, and cattle sheds. One of the town’s residents told WAFA that Israeli police raided the town and handed about 20 demolition notices under the pretext of construction without permits. The police gave the residents until February 19 to appeal the decision of the Municipality. Witnesses pointed out that the town has been witnessing land confiscation and homes demolition in order to build and expand illegal nearby settlements.
Changes in Jerusalem police brass bring crackdown on Arab residents
Haaretz 4 Feb — Changes at the top of the Jerusalem District police are being felt in the eastern part of the capital. Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem have complained that the police, under New district commander Maj. Gen. Yossi Prienti, have been implementing an almost declared policy of collective punishment against neighborhoods considered too disruptive. Two weeks ago such an enforcement/punishment operation ended in Isawiya in north Jerusalem, and a week ago a new operation started in Silwan. The operations included numerous arrests, roadblocks to inspect vehicles, tax collection, house demolitions, shutting off water, various fines, searches and random checks of identification, and more. Residents said police officers and commanders have admitted to them that in practice it is punishment in response to rock-throwing and other disturbances.
IOA deprives 20,000 Jerusalemite children from reuniting with their families
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 4 Feb — The Israeli occupation authorities (IIOA) have deprived more than 20,000 Jerusalemite children from the right of reuniting with their families in occupied Jerusalem. The secretary general of the Islamic Christian commission for supporting Jerusalem and the holy shrines, Dr. Hanna Issa, pointed to a sharp rise in the number of Palestinians who were denied residence permission in occupied Jerusalem. Issa, a professor in international law, said in a press release on Monday that Israel was exerting all efforts possible to reduce the number of Palestinians living in Jerusalem.
Army to demolish structures near Nablus
IMEMC — Tuesday February 5; Israeli soldiers invaded Sabastia town, northwest of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and handed several residents military orders demanding them to demolish structures built in their town and property. Nahedh Riziq, one of the residents who was handed a demolish order for his two-story building, stated that the army and employees of the ““Construction and Planning Committee” invaded the town and handed him an order demanding him to demolish his restaurant under the pretext that it was built without a construction permit … Army informed the residents that they have three days to demolish their own property; otherwise the soldiers will demolish the properties and bill the owners.
Haj Sami Sadeq and the struggle for Al Aqraba
Pal. Mon. 5 Feb — Al Aqaba is a small Palestinian village located in the northern Jordan Valley, home to around 300 residents. Since 1999 Haj Sami Sadeq has been the mayor of this town, facing a constant struggle against the Israeli forces and authorities. Al Aqaba is located within Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli military and civil control. Like many other villages in Area C the land on which Al Aqaba resides has been designated as an Israeli military firing zone. Training within the village of Al Aqaba with live ammunition, which has been occurring since the beginning of the occupation has become commonplace.
Israel to demolish 10 homes in Jordan Valley
JORDAN VALLEY (WAFA) 5 Feb — Israeli forces Tuesday handed 10 Palestinian families demolition notices of their homes in the Jordan Valley, said an official. Aref Daragmeh, head of Wadi al-Maleh village council, told WAFA that the Israeli soldiers informed the families living in Wadi al-Maleh, Ein Hilwa, and Al-Hammamat to leave their homes because they want to them. This is not the first time these families, which are mainly children, women and elderly, have been forced to leave their homes to make room for army training, said Daragmeh. He pointed out that last month the demolitions in AL-Hammamat area were very hard and brutal on residents, especially in this cold weather.
Who’s really taking over the Negev?
Haaretz 6 Feb by Moriel Rothman and Yariv Mohar — The Bedouin are often portrayed as foreign invaders bent on seizing control of Israel’s Negev Desert, but Zionist history suggests a different narrative — …The myth of the takeover of the Negev Desert is being spread by an orchestrated campaign of supposed facts and biased research suggesting that the Bedouin are invaders — nomads who not very long ago came from Saudi Arabia or the Sinai Peninsula and are not native inhabitants of the Negev. The people behind this myth claim they are speaking in the name of Zionism and against its opponents … But to see how ungrateful and ungracious Israel’s attitude toward the Bedouin is today, you need only peruse the writing of Zalman David Levontin, a Zionist activist and leader from the beginning of the First Aliyah, or Jewish immigration to Palestine around the turn of the 19th century. In his book “To the Land of Our Fathers,” Levontin writes about the encounters between the first Zionist immigrants and the Negev Bedouin. It turns out that even before Theodor Herzl wrote “The Jewish State,” the Bedouin had invited the Zionist immigrants to settle alongside them. Today, though, the descendants of these Jews are brazenly calling the Bedouin “invaders,” and doing so in the name of Zionism. …
Israeli MK storms al-Aqsa Mosque
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 5 Feb — MK Moshe Feiglin, from the Likud Beiteinu party, stormed Al Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday at 1:30 pm, guarded by the occupation forces, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage reported. Al-Aqsa mosque witnessed a state of alert by the occupation forces, while hundreds of Muslim worshipers, Jerusalemites, residents of 1948-occupied territories and students gathered in al-Aqsa mosque Squares expressing their anger and rejection of such raids. Meanwhile, the Israeli forces arrested five of Jerusalemite female students; three of whom were arrested in the morning while the other two were arrested in the afternoon. According to the Foundation for Maintenance of Aqsa and the Holy Sites groups of the settlers and Israeli female soldiers, in their military uniforms, have also stormed al-Aqsa mosque today and toured in different parts of it.
Report: IOA established 482 outposts last year
RAMALLAH (PIC) 4 Feb — The Israeli Occupation Authorities (IOA) demolished 465 Palestinian buildings and established 482 outposts in the West Bank and the occupied city of Jerusalem during the last year, a Palestinian official statistical report documented. The PA Ministry for Settlement and Wall Affairs stated in its report issued on Sunday that the occupation authorities have set up over the past year 185 settlements and 175 outposts, in addition to other 29 settlement sites. The report pointed out that the Israeli authorities completed 444 kilometers of a total 757 kilometers currently under construction of the Apartheid Wall that will isolate 10.2 per cent of the occupied West Bank.
Israeli mayor of Ramallah-area settlement wants to annex Palestinian city as ‘South Beit El’
EI 1 Feb — In a recent interview with a British journalist, an Israeli mayor expressed the wish to annex the whole Palestinian city of Ramallah to his illegal West Bank settlement. Moshe Rosenbaum said: “We hope that one day, Ramallah will be ‘South Beit El,’ ” reported Ruth Michaelson. Beit El is a Jews-only colony of about 6,000 settlers, while nearby Ramallah is a Palestinian city of tens of thousands of people (300,000 including all the villages and camps of the Ramallah region). Rosenbaum’s comment amounts to a wish to ethnically cleanse the city. The comment is a stark reminder that Israeli moves towards annexing the West Bank will not cease until all Palestinians are removed — or it is stopped by Palestinian resistance.
Settlers burn two cars near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 5 Feb – Jewish settlers Tuesday set fire to two Palestinian vehicles in the village of Deir Jreer, northeast of Ramallah, as well as sprayed anti-Palestinian graffiti in the area, according to witnesses. They told WAFA that settlers burned the two cars and sprayed graffiti that calls to kick Palestinians out, in addition to graffiti saying this land is their promised land and belongs to Israel.
Settlers escalate their attacks in Nablus
NABLUS (PIC) 5 Feb — Israeli settlers attacked on Monday evening Palestinian citizens on the road reopened by the occupation authorities near Nablus after being closed for 13 years. Hamza Diriya, member of the Committee for the Defense of Aqraba lands, confirmed that a group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian citizens on Monday while passing through the road, where they smashed their vehicles’ windscreens.
Israel orders West Bank settlement to stop polluting nearby Palestinian village
[with video] Haaretz 5 Feb — The Environmental Protection Ministry has instructed the Betar Ilit municipality in the West Bank to stop the repeated sewage contamination of a nearby Palestinian village’s fields, after a group of settlers interceded on the villagers’ behalf. Last week, farmers from the Palestinian village of Wadi Foquin asked the staff of the field school in the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion for their help in stopping the sewage flow from Betar Ilit, which had flooded their fields and contaminated them. Members of the school’s staff came to the village and photographed the sewage flooding the cultivated fields. School principal Yaron Rosenthal immediately contacted the environmental officer in the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration and asked him to deal with the problem … Wadi Foquin has become famous as one of the last villages to preserve traditional agricultural methods, such as using a canal network to funnel spring water to small plots.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Nablus teen dies after 8 years in coma
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — A Nablus teen died on Tuesday after spending eight years in a coma, locals said. Qassam Said Mahmud al-Damidi, 18, was hit by a settler car in Huwwara, south Nablus, eight years ago and had been in a coma ever since. He passed away in hospital.
Palestinian injured after being hit by Israeli army jeep
IMEMC 5 Feb — Palestinian medical sources reported, on Monday evening, that one youth was moderately injured after being rammed by an Israeli military jeep in Za‘atara village, south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The young man, identified as Khalifa Mohammad Mahameed, 23, suffered several fractures and bruises to various parts of his body. He was moved by a Palestinian ambulance to the Arab Society Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, in Bethlehem. There have been numerous similar incidents, sometimes leading to fatalities and very serious injuries, including hit and run incidents caused by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem. On Sunday, January 13, a Palestinian child, 7, was moderately injured after being hit by a car driven by an Israeli settler near the Kidar illegal settlement, in occupied East Jerusalem; the settler fled the scene.
Israeli army arrests 24 people in West Bank
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Feb — The Israeli army arrested Monday 24 Palestinians from throughout the West Bank in a wide scope campaign that included parliament members, according to various sources. They said soldiers raided several West Bank cities, arresting activists and political figures that included Ahmad Attoun, a lawmaker from Jerusalem whom Israel had expelled to Ramallah last year after revoking his Jerusalem residency status. Those arrested included also Hatem Qufeisheh, from Hebron, and Muhammad al-Tul, from Dahrieh, in the Hebron area; both along with Attoun, are lawmakers from the Hamas-backed Change and Reform bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council. The long list of names of those arrested included several Hamas members, such as Adnan Asfour, from Nablus, where 10 of those arrested came from, and university instructor from Hebron Zein al-Din Shabaneh. Arrests included cities such as Bethlehem, Tulkarm and Ramallah.
The Prisoners Club said Israel arrested 40 Palestinians in the West Bank in the last 48 hours.
Israeli forces detain more Palestinians in West Bank
MEMO 5 Feb — Israel’s occupation forces have arrested another five Palestinians in the occupied West Bank following a sweep through Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. Witnesses said that the Israelis used an explosive device to break into homes in Hebron. Several properties and personal belongings were damaged by the security forces before two men were taken away. Well-known activist Adnan Abu-Tabbaneh, who was released from a Palestinian prison one month ago, said that his 18-year-old son was one of two men detained in Hebron and had been released by the Palestinian authorities just last week; 23 year old Mohammed Salaymeh was named as the other.
IOF soldiers nab seven Palestinians including Hamas leader
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued on Tuesday the campaign of arrests in lines of Hamas cadres and activists and rounded up seven Palestinians. Local sources said that IOF soldiers stormed Assira Al-Shamaliya, south of Nablus, and searched many homes before taking away Hamas leader Sheikh Dirar Hamdne after wreaking havoc on his home. Other soldiers stormed Zawata town to the west of Nablus and arrested Zaher Mousa, a Hamas activist.IOF soldiers nabbed two other Palestinians one in Ramallah and the other in Al-Khalil, the latter was released only a weekearlier from the PA preventive security jail. In the Jordan Valley, IOF troops manning Al-Hamra roadblock arrested three young men on Monday night and closed the checkpoint after the incident. The Israeli radio claimed that the soldiers found two homemade explosive devices in the car in which the three Palestinians were riding
IOA detains son of MP on return from abroad
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 4 Feb — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) detained Hudhaifa, the eldest son of detained MP Nayef Al-Rejoub, on his return from studying abroad via Jordan. The Rejoub family said that the IOA detained Hudhaifa Sunday afternoon at the bridge linking Jordan to the occupied West Bank and took him to Ofer jail, west of Ramallah. They said that Hudhaifa had completed his MSc in engineering in the United Arab Emirates three days earlier and was on his way to his hometown of Dura in Al-Khalil. The father, MP Nayef Rejoub is held in the Israeli Negev jail under administrative detention, without trial or charge.
Sixteen lawmakers held in Israeli jails, says group
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Feb — The latest Israeli army arrest of three Palestinian members of parliament from the West Bank raised the number of lawmakers held in Israeli jails to 16, a prisoners’ advocacy group said Monday … Thirteen of the lawmakers are from the [Hamas-backed] Change and Reform Bloc and the remaining three include two from the ruling Fatah party, including Marwan Barghouti, and the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmad Saadat. Both Barghouti and Saadat are serving several life terms, while most of the incarcerated Hamas lawmakers are held in administrative detention widely criticized by international human rights groups as illegal. [PIC: Many citizens said that the arrests were aimed at meddling with the reconciliation process, pointing to the fact that most of those detained were among those championing the acceleration of reconciliation.]
IOA releases mother of prisoner after detaining her along with his children
JENIN (PIC) 4 Feb — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) released the mother of a Palestinian prisoner at a late night hour on Sunday after detaining her for hours along with his two children. Local sources said that 53-year-old Fathiya Abdulqader, from Jenin, was taken after visiting her son Rami Khanfar in the Negev prison. They said that Israeli occupation forces took her and the two little girls to a police station for questioning. The sources said the mother was interrogated under security pretexts, which, they said, were only meant to harass relatives of prisoners. Khanfar, from Seelat Al-Dhaher village in Jenin, is serving a 15-year sentence.
Report: 17 Israeli attacks on journalists in January
GAZA (PIC) 4 Feb — A report monitoring the Israeli attacks on Palestinian journalists displayed an escalation in those attacks in the past month of January. The Palestinian government’s information office said in its monthly report on freedom of the press in the Palestinian territories that the Israeli occupation forces escalated their assaults on journalists. It said that 17 assaults were recorded comprising shooting, beating, and detention
Out of 103 investigations opened in 2012 into alleged offenses committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, not a single indictment served to date
Yesh Din 3 Feb — In the wake of recent events, Yesh Din published today a new data sheet about criminal accountability of IDF soldiers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The data indicates a clear downward trend in the rate of indictments served: in the years 2009-2011 indictments were served following 2.5% of the investigations opened into alleged offenses committed by Israeli soldiers, while in 2012 not a single MPCID investigation resulted in an indictment.
2012 begins with more assaults on Jerusalemites
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 3 Feb — The whole world welcomed the new year with hope and optimism that it will be better than the previous year. Citizens of Jerusalem welcomed this year with more Israeli assaults on them and their properties, lots of arrests, house demolitions, land confiscation and bulldozing. The Arrest of Many Children According to cases reaching the Wadi Hilwe Information Centre, 143 arrests were made during last month (January). Those arrested were from Silwan, al Essawiye, the Old City and Sheikh Jarrah. Almost half were children, many of whom were aged between 12 and 14 years. The youngest, Muhammad Ali Dirbas, was under 8 years old; he was arrested from his house and taken alone to the police station where he was held for 2 hours. We understand that the Israeli authorities broke both international and Israeli laws during these arrests. Many children, especially those from Silwan, have been taken to Cells #20 in the Maskubye. They don’t have the adult escort, as the law requires, during the first investigation. Furthermore, the hands and feet of children are tied during arrest. According to testimonies of arrested children, the investigations weren’t carried out by child specialists.
Prisoners / Hunger strikers / Court actions
Lawyer: Long-term hunger striker refusing water
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Jailed hunger striker Samer Issawi has stopped drinking water after refusing food for 188 days, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said Tuesday. A PPS lawyer visited Issawi in Israel’s al-Ramle prison clinic and said the prisoner has stopped drinking water and taking vitamins, and is boycotting all medical tests. A doctor has informed Issawi that his heart could stop at any time if he stops drinking, the lawyer said in a statement. Issawi is suffering cramps and numbness and his weight has dropped to 47 kgs, the lawyer added. Issawi thanked his supporters inside Palestine and internationally for their solidarity.
Help release Mamun Nasser from Israeli prison
ISM 5 Jan — Shepherd Mamun Nasser has spent almost two months in an Israeli military prison after he was severely beaten by settlers while tending to his sheep. Military court has agreed to his release if the sum of 4000 NIS is paid for bail. Mamun’s family can not afford this amount. Help us raise the funds to secure his release.
On 17th December Mamun Nasser was tending his sheep on a hillside in his village land close to the illegal settler colony of Yizhar. Settlers sought out Mamun and handcuffed him then beat him. His brothers, two of his sisters and his mother who were first to arrive to his aid found Mamun surrounded by settlers covered in blood with most of his face severely swollen. As they attempted to get Mamun from the settlers Israeli soldiers arrived and opened fire shooting live bullets at his family, with one bullet passing through his sister’s dress. Mamun’s brother Amir wasn’t so ‘lucky’ and was hit in the leg. As word of the attack on Mamun spread more villagers arrived and fought to try to free Mamun. In the process a settler was hit by a stone and wounded. Mamun was arrested by the military and taken away while family and friends managed to carry Amir to an ambulance. Mamun was first taken to Huwwara military base on 17 December and then transferred to Megiddo prison the next day and charged with assaulting both the settlers and soldiers.
Dirar Abu Sisi: Two years in confinement with no trial
Pal. Mon. 5 Feb — Dirar Abusisi, after losing one-third of his body weight during two years of Israeli detention (photo credits: Richard Silverstein) — Nearly two years have passed since Dirar Abu Sisi was arrested in Ukraine by the Israeli intelligence forces, the Mossad. He was forcibly detained on a train to Kiev whilst attempting to meet his brother, and subsequently taken through a torturous journey until he arrived at Ashkelon prison in Israel. Ever since then, he has remained in solitary confinement without trial. The Mossad forces claimed Dirar was involved with the political party Hamas, using his knowledge as a PhD qualified electrical engineer to build rockets to be fired into Israel. They later accused him of withholding information regarding Ghalid Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped in Gaza in 2006. To date there has been zero evidence that Abu Sisi was ever implicitly linked to building rockets for Hamas. Even with the release of Ghalid Shalit in a prisoner swap in October 2011, Abu Sisi is still locked up in an Israeli prison under solitary confinement [long article with many little-known details of Abu Sisi’s ordeal]
Will Samer Issawi be the next victim of medical neglect by the Israeli Prison Service?
EI 3 Feb by Shahd Abusalama — …Medical neglect is one of the major brutal policies the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) practices intentionally against Palestinian political prisoners which Langer aimed to highlight in her book. “IPS deliberately aims to harm Palestinian detainees’ physical and mental health in any possible way,” my father repeatedly says and many released prisoners have agreed. Because of this, access to proper medical care has been always on the top of detainees’ demands whenever they go on mass hunger strikes.
Israeli officer who attacked Bedouin civilian gets off with plea bargain
An IDF officer charged with assaulting and badly beating an Israeli Bedouin civilian at a roadblock in December was sentenced to 75 days of military work, demotion and a suspended sentence for two years as part of a plea bargain authorized by the Jaffa military tribunal on Monday. The court banned the release of the defendant’s identity until May this year. The officer was charged with stopping Fadel Haniyeh, 21, who was driving from Hebron to his home in Tel Sheva with his family, at an improvised roadblock in south Hebron in late December. The officer took Haniyeh to the side of the road, according to the indictment, where he beat him on the head with the butt of his rifle, breaking his nose, cuffed his hands behind his back, blindfolded him and proceeded to beat him with his rifle and choke him. Haniyeh was left blindfolded and bleeding for at least half an hour while his family waited in the car … Haniyeh, who came to the tribunal, detailed his injuries and said they still impact him and his family. Asked about the plea bargain he said, “it seems okay to me.”
Israeli court sentences detained Hamas MP
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Feb — The Israeli military court in Ofer, near Ramallah, sentenced detained Hamas MP Hassan Yousef to 28 months along with a fine. Family of the MP told Quds Press on Monday that the court imposed a six thousand shekels fine on Yousef. They said that the MP had been in jail for the past 15 months as administrative detainee, without charge, before the court fabricated a new charge and sentenced him accordingly.
Group: Israel detains children en route to prison visit
JENIN (Ma’an) 4 Feb — Israeli police on Sunday detained two young girls and their grandmother after denying them permission to visit the children’s jailed father, the Palestinian prisoners society said. Hala Khanfar, 7, and Jana Khanfar, 8, were detained with their grandmother while trying to visit their father Rami Khanfar in Israel’s Negev prison, their uncle told the society. The children, from Nablus in the northern West Bank, were held until 1 a.m. Monday, when they were handed to Palestinian security officials in the southern city of Hebron. They spent the night in Hebron at the home of the head of a local committee for prisoners’ families. Their grandmother remains in Israeli custody, a Ma‘an reporter said.
Preventing families from Shoufat visiting their sons for a month
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 4 Feb — Today the Administration of Gilboa’s prison prevented the families of prisoners from Shoufat to visiting their sons. These are the families of: Amir and Hamza al Dabas and Ahmad Sanduka. The families knew from other families who were able to visit their sons that al Dabas and Sanduka are being punished. Their rights to visits will be withheld for an entire month after they were attacked in 27/1/13, according to Amir al Dabas’s father. On that day a total of 9 prisoners (Ayman Da’ajne, Amir al Dabas, Hamza al Dabas, Ahmad Shehade, Muhammad al G’azawi, Haitham al Tartir, Ahmad al Tawil, Malek Mheisen and Ahmad Sanduka – aged between 15-19 years) were attacked because they refused to be presented to the Main court in Jerusalem; when the prisoners reached the court, they were turned back with the claim that the prosecution lawyer was sick. Amir al Dabas’ father added, according to his information from other families, that during the attack on prisoners by prison forces, the youngest one (Ayman Daajne, 15 years old) lost consciousness. Following this the administration prevented their families to visit them they were separated into different prisons.
Palestinian worker dies in tunnel accident
RAFAH (PIC) 4 Feb — A Palestinian worker died in an accident on Sunday night in one of the tunnels spread along the borders between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Medical sources told the PIC reporter that Ahmed Zorob, 22, died when a bloc fell on him while inside a tunnel in Brazil area in Rafah … 233 Palestinians have died in tunnel work accidents since 2006 when Israel imposed its blockade on the coastal enclave while 600 others were injured.
Months after Gaza ceasefire, psychological scars remain
LONDON (AlertNet) 4 Feb – Civilians in Gaza still struggle to sleep, eat and go to school, two months after the week of rocket fire and air strikes that hit the Palestinian territory late last year, aid agencies and health workers say. The number of people being treated for psychological trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder doubled after the conflict which killed 170 Palestinians and six Israelis in November, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The most recent crisis in a dispute which has remained unresolved since the Islamist group Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, sowed lasting fear among children in particular, according to Unicef. Three-year-old Mohammed Saleh has been clinging to his parents since the November bombardment, becoming catatonic at night if he hears any sounds, his father says.
Child survivor of Gaza massacre denied medical treatment by Israel
EI 4 Feb — Twelve-year-old Amal Samouni still has shrapnel in her skull from the time Israel bombed her neighborhood in Gaza in early 2009. Amal lost 21 members of her extended family in that massacre, including her father Attieh and her brother Ahmad. As if she hasn’t suffered enough, Amal has been refused permission to travel through Israel for sorely-needed treatment … Human rights monitors have documented numerous cases in which Israel has refused permission to travel for medical treatment since it withdrew its settlers from Gaza in 2005. The World Health Organization recently reported that 178 applications to travel via the Erez crossing had been made by Gaza-based patients before Israel’s eight-day attack on Gaza this past November. Just 62 of these permits were granted (“Initial Health Assessment Report Gaza Strip,” December 2012 [PDF]).
Israel ongoing blockade on Gaza cause for alarm
Press TV 4 Feb — According to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) at the end of January 2012 growing numbers of Palestinians are facing food insecurity due to border restrictions. (OCHA) estimates that 1.3 million Palestinians do not have enough food. International organizations have been providing food aid to most families in Gaza, largely consisting of dry food. However, based on a recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 44% of Gazans are food insecure. The Palestinian NGOs network (PNGO) which represents more than one hundred and thirty civil society organizations in the Gaza Strip blamed lack of food security on the Israeli blockade.
IOF forces advance into eastern and southern Gaza
GAZA (PIC) 5 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) escorted military bulldozers into eastern and southern Gaza Strip areas at dawn Tuesday and leveled land near the border fence. Eyewitnesses told the PIC reporter that five IOF bulldozers advanced 200 meters from the eastern borders toward Juhr Al-Deek area and leveled land lots.
IOF soldiers in tanks and armored vehicles escorted bulldozers further south to the east of Rafah city. Locals said the soldiers opened fire at farmers to force them abandon their land lots before starting to bulldoze the land in the proximity of the border fence.
Goods to Gaza through Karam Abu Salem commercial crossing
PNN — On Tuesday morning, 5 February, the Israeli occupation authorities opened the commercial crossing Karam Abu Salem, which is located Southeast of the city of Rafah at the Southern tip of the Gaza Strip. They opened the crossing in order to export two truckloads of flowers, tomatoes, and peppers to Europe and to allow in 320 truckloads of various goods, including building materials and limited quantities of cooking gas to Gaza.
Hamas pushes Islamization of Gaza
Al Monitor 4 Feb — When Muhammad, who refused to give his family name out of security concerns, asked the DJ at his brother’s wedding in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, to play music for slow dancing, the DJ refused on the grounds that he would be punished by the authorities .Bemused, Muhammad warned the DJ that the family wouldn’t continue the wedding if he didn’t play the song. The DJ shrugged off the threat and stood by his refusal. “We were really angry, because we were never informed that the slow dance wasn’t allowed,” Muhammad said. When Muhammad sought clarification from the club administrator, he was told that such dances were prohibited for “social concerns” — the dance moves were sexually suggestive and might induce single females to behave inappropriately.
Gaza rights groups question police use of force
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Human rights groups in the Gaza Strip are calling for authorities to investigate police use of force against civilians after the death of a suspected drug trafficker last week. Atiya Suleiman Qishta, 41, was killed on Saturday after he was shot in the back by an anti-drug unit of the Gaza police force. Police sources told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights that eight officers laid an ambush for the car as part of an attempted drug bust, but when Qishta stepped out of the vehicle he refused police orders to stop and attempted to flee. In response, a police official fired a number of bullets at him, PCHR said. A police investigation has been opened, but PCHR is calling for the public prosecutor to probe the death, and the government to restrict police use of firearms.
Saudi Arabia opens housing project in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — A Saudi delegation on Monday opened the biggest housing project in the Gaza Strip and pledged further funding to support Palestinian refugees. Saudi Arabia financed the 752-home neighborhood in Rafah for families whose homes were destroyed by the Israeli army. It features four schools, a market, a mosque, a clinic and a community center. The delegation, headed by vice-chairman of the Saudi Development Fund Yousef al-Bassam, pledged a further $34 million to restore 7,000 homes and $54 million to build 1,100 homes and six schools as part of a program by the Gulf Cooperation Council. The building of the Rafah neighborhood was overseen by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
Israel upgrades electricity lines to Gaza
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release 3 Feb — The “Grizim” underground electrical lines that supply electricity from Israel to Gaza’s northern region have been refurbished and upgraded over the past week. These lines supply 12.5 MW of electricity, which constitutes ten percent of the total amount of electricity supplied by Israel to Gaza every day. Israel supplies most of the electricity used by the residents of the Gaza Strip. This process has significantly increased the capacity of the electricity lines, thereby providing a more stable source of electricity to the residents of northern Gaza.
Palestinian refugees in Syria
Abbas dispatches officials to Syria to seek safety for Palestinians in camps
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) 5 Feb — A senior Palestinian official says President Mahmoud Abbas is dispatching representatives to Syria to try to secure the safety of Palestinians caught in fighting. Ahmed Majdalani said Tuesday that representatives will meet Syrian officials to try to protect Palestinian areas from fighting that has engulfed parts of the capital Damascus. Generations of Palestinian refugees have lived in the crowded Damascus area of Yarmouk since their forefathers fled, or were forced to flee, their homes during the 1948 Mideast war surrounding Israel’s founding. Majdalani said they also will try to convince Palestinian factions to stay out of the fighting. The some 500,000 Palestinians in Syria are divided between supporters of rebels and government forces.
3 Palestinians killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 5 Feb — The Working group for the Palestinian refugees in Syria confirmed that al-Mzeirib town was heavily bombed, where a shell hit near a school belonging to the UNRWA. Al-Mzeirib town is inhabited by about 8500 Palestinians, it is a Syrian town with a Palestinian majority located south of Syria northwest of Deraa … The correspondent confirmed the death of Mahmoud Dari and Mohamed al-Quda by sniper fire, in light of bombing the [Yarmouk] camp that lead to the death of a Palestinian child. Meanwhile, violent clashes took place between the Free Army and the regular army in different parts of the camp.
Political / Economic News
PA to pay remainder of December wages, official says
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb – The Palestinian Authority will pay public sector workers the remainder of overdue December salaries on Monday, the PA finance minister said. Nabil Qassis said in a statement that this is the last overdue payment of salaries from 2012 and the ministry will do its best to pay public sector wages in 2013.
Teachers’ union suspends strike plans
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 5 Feb – The union of teachers decided to suspend a strike announced earlier Tuesday after the union reached agreement with the Palestinian government, a spokesman said.
Finance minister: PA budget $3.6 billion for 2013
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — The Palestinian Authority government is working on a draft budget of $3.6 billion for 2013, set for approval by the end of the month, the PA finance minister said Tuesday. The budget contains a number of measures to try and reduce the budget deficit and increase revenues, Nabil Qassis told Ma‘an. “We decided to adopt a united taxation system in attempt to limit tax evasion. In addition, we raised taxes on car imports and purchase, and these procedures are expected to yield $50 million a year,” he said.
Official: West Bank electricity prices to rise
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Electricity prices in the West Bank will rise this month, the general manager of the Jerusalem Electricity Company Hisham al-Umari said Tuesday. Palestinian companies buy electricity from an Israeli provider, which has recently announced that a 10 percent price rise will be implemented later this month, al-Umari told Ma‘an … The Palestinian companies accumulated millions of dollars on debt in recent years, citing an enforcement problem for bill collection … The Palestinian Authority has tried to strengthen enforcement by ending an amnesty for refugees in the West Bank. It cancelled all outstanding electricity debts in January, saying the measure was a prelude to a tightened regime of bill collection.
Islamic summit to recommend Palestinian ‘safety net’
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 3 Feb — The Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo this week will recommend its members donate to a financial “safety net” for Palestine, according to a draft statement ahead of the conference. At a preparatory meeting of senior officials on Sunday, a statement was prepared calling on Islamic nations to donate to Palestine under the OIC banner. The funds will go towards Palestine’s strategic plan to develop the city of Jerusalem, which was approved by the group in August 2012, according to the statement published on PA
Bright spot in Palestinian economy: more women opening businesses
CSM 4 Feb — It’s a rainy day in the West Bank village of Ajoul, and when the kids get out of school a few dart into Myassar Issa’s mini-market to buy sweets before running home up the muddy hills leading out of the valley. They’re part of the steady stream of customers that have helped Mrs. Issa grow her shop since opening it with a micro-finance loan of $1,400 two years ago. Today she has repaid that loan and gotten another, doubled her merchandise, and gained a new sense of independence as the family breadwinner.
Israeli occupation results in $7 billion losses for Palestinians every year
MEMO 5 Feb — Palestinian losses resulting from the Israeli occupation have been estimated at around $7 billion every year, claims a report issued by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The difficult living conditions for the Palestinians are attributed to the annexation of the Palestinian economy to Israel’s. The losses, the report said, come about largely as a result of Israel’s control over the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and using them for Israel’s sole benefit … The OIC report listed environmental pollution, industrial and economic hindrances and Israeli restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom to travel as contributory factors to the overall losses.
Official: Public freedoms reconciliation committee to meet
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — The public freedoms committee, formed to implement national reconciliation, will meet Tuesday in the West Bank, a committee member said Monday. Khalil Assaf told Ma‘an the committee would discuss returning property to its owners, suspending laws enacted since Hamas and Fatah split, and the application of Palestinian law and respect for freedoms … On Saturday, the committee agreed that all citizens have a right to a passport, and this must be implemented by submitting relevant documents to authorities, Assaf said. Since the division, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been unable to get passports from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority. The committee also agreed that security services must stop summoning Palestinians for political reasons; summons must only be issued for legal reasons and interviews must be conducted in the presence of a lawyer, according to Assaf. Committee members also guaranteed the right to freedom of movement, and agreed that all newspapers must be distributed freely in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to cancel questioning about political affiliation in applications for government jobs must be implemented and all political detainees should be released, the committee said, adding that civilians must be not be tried in military courts.
Reconciliation committee to meet in Cairo this week
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Feb — A committee of Hamas and Fatah officials will meet this week in Cairo to follow up a reconciliation deal to end political divisions, officials said. The reconciliation committee will sit on Wednesday with Egypt officials, the brokers of the stalled 2011 accord to end the division of the West Bank and Gaza, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told the official Palestinian TV station Sunday. The meeting will prepare for another summit this week, that of the PLO reform committee, al-Ahmad said.
Khreisha champions reactivating PLC in response to Israeli arrests
TULKAREM (PIC) 4 Feb — Dr. Hassan Khreisha, the second deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, has said that Israel was cloning its previous step of detaining Palestinian MPs to influence their effective role in the Palestinian arena. Khreisha told Quds Press on Monday that Israel was trying to obstruct the work of the PLC and retain the internal Palestinian division, adding that Israel was the only one benefiting from the present state of affairs and was seeking to maintain it. The Tulkarem MP said that the best response to the Israeli step is to hold an urgent PLC session, adding that appeals and requests did not lead to the release of a single MP and the “Palestinians have to embark on a practical step to change the de facto situation.”
PNC elections likely in 6 months, PFLP official says
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Feb — Elections for the PLO’s Palestinian National Council are likely to be held in six months, an official from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Tuesday. Jamil Mezher told Ma‘an that he hoped a PLO reform committee summit scheduled for Friday would facilitate implementing the reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian political factions.
Obama plans visit to West Bank, Jordan as part of Middle East trip
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 5 Feb — US President Barack Obama plans to visit the West Bank and Jordan as part of an upcoming trip to the Middle East, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday. Earlier, Carney confirmed Obama would travel to Israel in the spring, his first trip to the country since taking office, but dates for the trip were not released. Obama will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian and Jordanian leaders during the tour, Carney said.
Obama to visit Israel in spring
WASHINGTON (NY Times) 5 Feb — President Obama plans to travel this spring to Israel for the first time since taking office, in a trip fraught with potential tension as he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try to move past the friction of the last four years now that both have won re-election. Mr. Obama agreed to the visit during a recent telephone call with Mr. Netanyahu, as he tries to refresh a relationship that has been rocky from the start of his presidency. By making Israel a destination on the first overseas trip of his new term, Mr. Obama is trying to affirm his support for the Jewish state despite deep doubts among its supporters.
Iran’s president says wishes to visit Gaza
BEIRUT (Reuters) 5 Feb – Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is due to take part in a summit in Egypt this week, expressed his desire on Monday to visit the neighboring Gaza Strip. Asked in an interview on the Al Mayadeen news channel whether he would visit Gaza while in Cairo next week or before his term as president expires in August, he replied: “My wish is bigger than this. I wish to pray in Jerusalem after complete liberation.” Iran does not recognize Israel. “If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people,” he said, without saying whose authority he would seek.
Activism / Solidarity / BDS
Announcing 4th annual Open Shuhada Street campaign (22-25 February 2013)
Youth against Settlements 2 Feb — We are very excited to announce the upcoming 4th annual Open Shuhada Street Campaign from 22-25 February 2013. The Open Shuhada Street Campaign (OSC) is a Palestinian initiative aiming to organize an International day of solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Hebron. It was started in 2010 in Hebron and international solidarity actions took place in numerous cities around the world. In 2012 more than 35 different activities were organized … The Israeli occupation forces closed Shuhada Street to Palestinian vehicles in 1994, after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, and then prevented Palestinian residents to walk there in 2000, in order to provide security for the 600 Israeli settlers occupying the center of Hebron.
Could UNHRC’s settlement report put the ‘S’ back in BDS?
972mag 4 Feb by Michael Omer-Man — The last paragraph of the UN Human Rights Council-sanctioned report on Israeli settlements may lay the legal and practical foundations for a new, untried regime of economic and trade sanctions against Israel, or at least provide new tools to those already advocating BDS.
Israeli Racism / Discrimination
Police chief: Worst quality of police services in Arab sector
Ynet 5 Feb — Chief of Police Yohanan Danino said that the the Arab sector has the lowest quality of police services. “We must assign more police officers to the sector,” said Danino. “The services are of a low quality because police stations weren’t built in these areas.” [End]
‘Arabic not allowed here’ says Haifa University employee
IMEMC 5 Feb — An Arab student studying at the Haifa University was prevented from speaking his mother tongue while at the Academic Counseling Center, and was explicitly told that “Arabic is not allowed in here.” … Shakkour said that he headed to the office seeking guidance before the exams, and added that every student who needs help is entitled to seek and obtain this help, especially before exams as the university provides councilors for this specific reason. Shaqqour asked for an Arabic counselor, and was about to call him when the employee stopped him and said “I’m sorry, Arabic is not allowed in here, I hope this is fine with you, but this is how we do it here,” the Arabs48 news website reported.
Israel’s attorney general vows to rein in racist Beitar fans
Haaretz 5 Feb — Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein told Beitar Jerusalem Tuesday that Israel intends to stamp out the racism and violence of the soccer team’s fans after it signed two Muslim players from Chechnya late last month … At a training session Friday, the two players from Chechnya, Gabriel Kadiev and Zaur Sadaev, were abused verbally and spat on by fans. The two had to leave the area surrounded by police and security guards.The next day, fans chanted racist slogans against the players at a Beitar match.
Israel accused of trolling activists on Facebook
Times of Israel 5 Feb — A Palestinian student involved in an Israeli-Palestinian protest campaign during the elections was arrested by the IDF in late January and released four days later without charges, causing activists to suspect that Israel is monitoring the Facebook activity of West Bank activists … The previous week, a short video featuring Galib was posted on the Facebook page of Real Democracy, an Israeli-Palestinian initiative which called on Israeli citizens to grant their votes on election day to Palestinians living in the West Bank as an act of protest. Under the title “Galib from Qaddum in an electoral rebellion,” Ishtewi spoke of the weekly protest in his village against the Israeli closure of a road leading to the nearby cities of Nablus and Jenin … Responding to an email query by the Times of Israel, the IDF spokesman’s office said on Tuesday that Ishtewi “was arrested on Friday afternoon during the course of a violent and illegal riot. Security forces apprehended the suspect because he was hurling stones.”
Japan, PA sign solid waste agreement
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 4 Feb — The Japanese development agency, JICA, and the Ministry of Local Government signed Monday a $10 million agreement on developing solid waste treatment plants in the West Bank, according to a Local Government statement … The project starts in September and ends in July 2014 and it is a continuation of a project the two sides had earlier agreed on.
Study: No demonization in PA’s school books
Ynet 4 Feb — Demonizing and de-humanizing the enemy are mostly absent from Israeli and Palestinian school books, a new study released Monday shows. While Israeli claims of Palestinian incitement are far from uncommon, the international study showed them to be largely baseless and accused both sides of a one-sided narrative … The study was led by a joint Israeli-Palestinian team comprised of Prof. Sami Adwan of the Bethlehem University, Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of the Tel Aviv University and Prof. Bruce Wexler of Yale University … The study suggested that the books show a one-sided national narrative, painting an imbalanced picture where one side is the aggressor and the other is a peace seeker acting in self-defense … Historical events are described selectively in order to bolster the national narrative of each side, and the culture, religion and general lifestyle of the other is nearly absent. The other side is often not even mentioned on maps … The Palestinian Authority expressed its satisfaction with the study … The Israeli Education Ministry said the study was biased, unprofessional and impartial[?].
New textbook study threatens to undercut argument that Palestinian textbooks preach hate
WASHINGTON (JTA) 3 Feb — An in-depth comparative study of Palestinian and Israeli school textbooks is offering some conclusions that already are making some Israeli government officials very unhappy: Palestinian textbooks do not have as much anti-Israel incitement as often portrayed. While this finding might appear to be welcome news for supporters of Israel, it also threatens to undercut one of the central elements of the official Israeli narrative. For years, the charge that Palestinians “educate to hate” has been an Israeli trump card in undermining claims that Palestinian statehood is overdue, and it is an article of faith among many lawmakers in Congress.
Weapons cache found in Galilee preschools
Ynet 5 Feb – Morning raid by Police in village of Abu Snan turns up RPG rockets, LAW missiles and explosives — The weapons, which include LAW missiles, RPG rockets, explosives and fragmentation grenades, were found in a drainage canal and pond. The objects were taken to be destroyed by northern district police sappers. [Very possibly part of the artillery stolen by IDF soldiers and civilians in 2006 and not recovered]
Settler launches ‘Operation Proposal’
Ynet 4 Feb — Young man from Har Bracha settlement gets soldiers at Oranit checkpoint to assist in marriage proposal … On Sunday evening, a few minutes after sunset, Sara Toshinsky, 23, arrived with Shamir at the Oranit checkpoint in the West Bank. She expected they would pass through as usual, when things started going “wrong”: IDF soldiers stopped the two’s car, looked inside, traded grave looks and ominously announced they were “wanted for interrogation.” According to a Monday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the two were then separated and panic set in: Toshinsky, a Bat Yam resident, was taken to a checkpoint interrogation room, where a an “angry” interrogator informed her that “Nir’s car was involved in a hit-and-run. We know you were there with him.” The two’s “detention” was all part of an elaborate marriage proposal planned by Shamir. In order to execute it perfectly, he first had to enlist the cooperation of the Defense Ministry, the Border Crossing Authority and the troops stationed at the checkpoint and their commanding officer. He even travelled to a Palestinian village to photograph his car there
Analysis / Opinion
Humanitarian hush money / Amira Hass
Haaretz 6 Feb — The generous aid given to the Palestinians through various channels is the reward offered by Western states in exchange for the tolerance they show toward Israeli apartheid — …The international jeep teams that reach every corner of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip live off a calamity that is 100-percent man-made, a fact that multiplies the cynicism of the scenario. The tanker trucks of drinking water they fund regularly, the food packages they distribute every few weeks or months and the tents pitched every week on the ruins of a demolished home add up to another Israeli success: compressing and shrinking the Palestinian issue from a battle for freedom, independence and rights to a question of charity and relief, of international donations and their timing. The ‘needy’ Palestinians who receive donations of water, food and tents in Hammamat al-Maleh, Beit Lahia and Shoafat are needy because regular Israelis – the cream of the state and state-religious school systems, high-ranking career army officers – who can look forward to a splendid civilian future in high-tech or public service specialize in abusing them. What, if not abuse, is a pipe across your land in Al Farisya, in the northern Jordan Valley, that brings water to Jewish homes built on your village’s land, but from which you are forbidden to take so much as a drop?
Israel in Syria / As‘ad Abukhalil
Al-Akhbar 4 Feb — It is abundantly clear that Israel has been involved in every Arab (and several non-Arab) civil and inter-state wars over the decades. There is hardly a civil war in which Israel was not criminally involved on the side of the most reactionary party. From Yemen to Lebanon, Jordan, Sudan, Western Sahara, Oman and Iraq, Israel has consistently involved itself — usually on the side of a repressive regime, or a repressive army or militia. Israel has been involved in the affairs of Lebanon since the 1950s, at least. Israel has also been involved in Syrian affairs for decades. The story of Elie Cohen has been told too many times, and the failure of Cohen — it is rarely mentioned in the Western heroic portrayal of him that he was after all caught, which is not the ultimate prize for any spy –has been covered up in all those pro-Israeli movies and books. Cohen basically opened a brothel in Damascus on behalf of the Mossad, and hoped that drunken officers and low-level government clerks would open up late into the night.
Israel is waiting for its Holocaust survivors to die / Amos Rubin
Haaretz 6 Feb — There are three different days committed to remembering the Holocaust, but during the rest of the year, the Israeli government only thinks of Holocaust survivors as a financial burden — The number of concentration camp survivors, anti-Nazi partisans and Jews who hid in forests and Christians’ homes now living in Israel is 233,700, according to the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. Of these individuals, dozens die every day. Apparently, the heartrending stories of 80-to-90-year-olds struggling for the basic means of survival that appear in the media every year do not bother the officials entrusted with their welfare in the Finance Ministry. That these survivors must choose between buying their medicines or food or that they don’t have a source of heating in the winter doesn’t seem to stop the State of Israel from denying them substantive assistance by relying on a variety of bureaucratic clauses. Israel even pettily denies Holocaust survivors the few benefits they are entitled to, when medical committees alter their disability evaluations in a manipulative way. Thus, a committee determines a Holocaust survivor has a 69 percent level of disability, not 70 percent, so the state can save NIS 500 on the recipient’s benefits payment.
Israel’s tussle with the Vatican over the site of Jesus’ Last Supper undecided / Samira Shackle
MEMO 5 Feb — Jerusalem is a city rich in religious history and holy sites for three of the Abrahamic religions. This is one of the reasons it has been so hotly contested. In particular, one building on Mount Zion in Jerusalem epitomises these rival claims. The ground floor is a Jewish holy site that is said to house the tomb of the biblical King David. The second floor is the Cenacle, the room believed to be the site of Jesus’ Last Supper, holy to Christians. On the roof is an old minaret, marking a time when it was a Muslim place of worship. For years, the building has been at the centre of a diplomatic struggle between Israel and the Vatican. Now, it has been indicated that an agreement has been reached … According to reports in the Israeli press, the new agreement will guarantee the Pope a seat in the Cenacle, giving him a “special authority” over the second floor of the building so that religious events can be held there. Claiming an exclusive, the Israel National News website rages that “the agreement constitutes Israel’s capitulation to the Vatican’s efforts to ‘Christianize’ the holy site”. But is this outrage justified? In fact, there has been no substantial indication that the Church has won the battle of the Cenacle.
‘Gaza Fashion Week’ comes to London art gallery / Sarah Irving
EI 5 Feb — Britain is, it seems, becoming the place to see Palestinian contemporary art. After exhibitions in Manchester and London in 2012 devoted to or with major representation of Palestinian artists, the capital has now upped the ante with the opening of P21, a gallery specializing in work by Palestinian artists or engaging with the theme of Palestine. Visitors to P21’s inaugural exhibition, Refraction: Moving Images On Palestine, may spot some old friends from Manchester Cornerhouse’s Subversion show last Spring or RichMix’s pre-Christmas Despite exhibition from Arts Canteen. The line of witty, bitter movie posters by Gazan twins Tarzan and Arab has been updated, presenting mock adverts for Israeli military operations ranging from 1972’s Spring of Youth to Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009, with a new selection ending in November’s eight-day attack on Gaza, Pillar of Cloud.