‘a judicial farce that only happens in Israel’: Israeli magistrate court sentences Samer Issawi to 8 months, but military court may imprison him indefinitely

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Prisoners / Hunger strikers / Court actions

Samer Issawi sentenced to 8 months in prison
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — An Israeli court on Thursday sentenced hunger-striker Samer Issawi to eight months in prison, but he has yet to face a military committee which could imprison him for 20 years. Issawi has been on hunger strike for 204 days. The magistrates court in Jerusalem sentenced Issawi for leaving Jerusalem, in violation of the terms of his amnesty granted in an Oct. 2011 prisoner exchange deal. The sentence includes time served since Issawi’s re-arrest in July 2012, and will conclude on March 6, but Issawi also faces a possible sentence under an Israeli military order which allows a special military committee to cancel prisoners’ amnesty.  The committee could use secret evidence to sentence Issawi to serve 20 years, the remainder of his previous sentence.

Lawyer condemns Issawi court decision
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — The director of the Palestinian prisoners’ club, Qadoura Fares, said the decision of an Israeli court not to release hunger-striker Samir Issawi showed the Israeli government was a “mafia.”  “The Israeli court sentences Issawi to eight months in prison under the charge that he went to Ramallah, so Ofer military court will look at this as a ‘violation,’ if we are to call it a violation.”  He said the possibility he might be returned to prison for decades for that “a judicial farce that only happens in Israel.”  Fares said that Issawi would continue the strike until he is released.

Dozens injured at Ofer protest for hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Israeli forces clashed with hundreds of Palestinians protesting near Ramallah on Thursday in solidarity with long-term hunger strikers in Israeli jails. A Ma‘an reporter said 29 protesters were injured by rubber-coated bullets and dozens more suffered tear gas inhalation. Prisoners minister Issa Qaraqe and Fatah central committee member Mahmud al-Aloul joined the rally, near Israel’s Ofer prison in the central West Bank.

Khader Adnan leads Red Cross protest in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers
Mondoweiss 21 Feb by Allison Deger — “I consider myself a sample of what happens on a hunger strike,” said Khader Adnan, one of the West Bank’s most revered former administrative detainees, from a mattress on the lobby floor of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office in Ramallah. To this, his visitors in the small waiting room erupt in laughter. Adnan and four others are in the eleventh day of fasting and camping inside the Red Cross office in protest against Israeli imprisonment of Palestinians. In response to the protest the ICRC shut its headquarters a week ago and relocated operations in Jericho.

Jerusalem archbishop visits solidarity tent for prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Archbishop Theodosius Atallah Hanna on Wednesday visited a solidarity tent near Ramallah for prisoners on hunger strike. “Our duty is to defend prisoners in Israeli detention because we love our land and our nation,” the Jerusalem archbishop said at the tent in al-Bireh. He called on all people to intensify solidarity campaigns in support of prisoners. “The Palestinian prisoners issue is the cause of all Arabs and Palestinians, Christians and Muslims,” he added.

Palestinian MP: New intifada if prisoners harmed
Ynet 21 Feb — Demonstration calling for release of hunger-striking prisoners held in West Bank. MP Mustafa Barghouti says Palestinians will ‘rise up should anything bad happen to them’

Brigade threatens to fire rockets if hunger striker harmed
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — The Ahmed Abu Rish Brigades on Thursday threatened to fire rockets at Israel if any jailed hunger striker is harmed … The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades joined a solidarity tent in Gaza City on Thursday in support of Samer Issawi who has been on hunger strike for 204 days, and Tareq Qaadan and Jaafar Azzidine who have refused food for 86 days … Islamic Jihad has said a truce with Israel could unravel if any hunger striker dies.

New Palestinian prisoner declares hunger strike
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 21 Feb — The captive Younis Hroub, from al-Khalil, has declared a hunger strike, protesting against his continued administrative detention, human rights sources revealed. The Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs confirmed that the prisoner Hroub joined the four prisoners’ hunger strike two days ago to protest his continued arrest without charge or trial under the pretext of the secret file.

Leader in Islamic Jihad and his brother on hunger strike in PA jails
RAMALLAH, NAZARETH, NABLUS (PIC) 20 Feb — One of the leaders of Islamic Jihad and his brother, detained in the Palestinian Authority’s jails, announced entering a hunger strike until their release. The leader Ayman Tabich, 32, and his brother Khalid, from Dura in al-Khalil in the southern occupied West Bank, were arrested on Sunday evening by PA intelligence service and were transferred to an unknown destination. The Islamic Jihad movement said in a statement that leader Tabich and his brother announced a hunger strike in protest at the continuation of the administrative detention. It also accused the Authority security apparatuses of waging a campaign against its leaders and cadres in the West Bank

After victorious hunger strike, Palestinian football star returns to Gaza for life of activism
EI 21 Feb by Rami Almeghari — Mahmoud Sarsak is a footballer and former prisoner who was released to Gaza on 10 July 2012 after refusing food for 90 days. The Electronic Intifada met with 25-year-old Sarsak in Rafah, where he now lives with his family. Trying to lead a normal life, Mahmoud now divides his time between home, friends and the sports ground of Rafah Services Club. He began playing his favorite sports there, until he was nominated in 2009 to train with the Palestinian national football team in the West Bank.

IOA extends the cartoonist Mohammad Saba‘na’s arrest
GAZA (PIC) 20 Feb — Salem Military Court has extended the detention of Palestinian cartoonist Mohamed Fayek Abdul Ghani Saba‘na, 34, from the town of Qabatiya in Jenin, to February 28, Palestine Center for Prisoners’ Studies confirmed. The lawyer Mustafa Azmouti told the Center that Salem military court extended the detention of cartoonist Saba‘na under the pretext of providing services to hostile parties, noting that the occupation authorities are still preventing lawyers from visiting him … Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian journalists staged a sit in Ramallah on Wednesday morning outside Ofer prison in solidarity with their colleague the journalist Amer Abu ‘Arafa, and in solidarity with the cartoonist and journalist Mohammed Saba‘na.

Wife of Abu Sisi appeals for allowing her kids to visit their father
GAZA (PIC) 21 Feb — Veronica, the wife of isolated prisoner Dirar Abu Sisi, said the health condition of her husband has deteriorated very seriously and appealed to human rights groups to intervene to help her and her kids see him in jail. Abu Sisi, 44, entered on Tuesday his third year in solitary confinement, where he has been isolated and banned from seeing his family since he was kidnapped from Ukraine, his wife’s country.

Administrative detention of MP extended for three months
TULKAREM (PIC) 21 Feb — Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies and human rights said that an Israeli court extended the administrative detention of MP Fathi Al-Qarawi for three months. Fuad Al-Khafsh, the center’s director, said that the decision to retain Qarawi, 55, for three more months in custody without trial or charge was in violation of the MPs rights and an attempt to deprive them of carrying out their jobs.

Medical error was about to kill the prisoner Mouqda
RAMALLAH (PIC) 21 Feb — The sick prisoner Mansour Mohammed Mouqda, sentenced to life imprisonment, stated that a doctor in Ramla prison hospital was about to kill him as a result of medical error. The doctor did not record a note in the prisoner’s medical file that “a bullet is still in his spine,” that represents a risk when conducting magnetic screening. The prisoner confirmed to the PPS lawyer that the doctor of Assaf Harofe hospital refused to conduct a magnetic test on him in the last moments for fear of its serious consequences. He explained that he was transferred yesterday to the Assaf Harofe hospital to conduct magnetic test, where the doctor checked his medical file, and at the last moment before conducting the medical test he told the doctor that there is still a bullet in his spine, the doctor immediately refused to conduct the magnetic test for fear of killing the patient. The doctor expressed his surprise towards the Ramle prison hospital’s doctor and how she did not record such important remark.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

House demolitions and destruction of crops gather pace in the Negev
MEMO 20 Feb — Israeli police stormed the village of Wadi Al-Na‘im in the Negev on Tuesday morning to destroy Arab rain-fed crops. Residents in other areas are expecting similar destruction of crops and house demolitions. Juma’a Al-Zabarika, a member of the National Democratic Alliance’s political office and the High Steering Committee for Arabs in the Negev, regarded the increase of these hostile policies in the Negev as a whole, and particularly in Wadi Al-Na‘im, which as a population of 14,000, as an implementation of the Goldberg-Praver-Begin plan, which recommends the displacement of Wadi Al-Na‘im and Al-Sir village residents. Al-Zabarika affirmed that these arbitrary acts would not discourage the people of Wadi Al-Na‘im or in any of the so-called “unrecognized villages” from continuing to preserve their land and homes as a historical and human right.

Israeli bulldozers destroy thousands of dunums of cultivated land in the Negev
NEGEV (PIC) 20 Feb — Israeli bulldozers have destroyed thousands of dunums of cultivated land belonging to Palestinians in the village of Wadi Na‘am [Wadi al-Na‘im] in occupied southern Negev in 1948-occupied Palestine. Police and occupation forces in large numbers, accompanied by a number of agricultural tractors stormed cultivated lands in the Bedouin village of Wadi Naam at down on Tuesday morning and started destroying crops in thousands of dunums planted with wheat, belonging to residents of the village, the village’s mayor confirmed. The mayor told Quds press that the occupation authorities claimed that it is a governmental land seized by force by the Negev Bedouins, stressing that “it is a false claim.” … The mayor confirmed that the occupation authorities are planning to deport the village’s residents, about 14 thousand people, in order to seize their lands.

Citizens clash with Israeli soldiers for damaging electricity grid
NABLUS (PIC) 20 Feb — A number of Palestinian citizens were treated for breathing problems after Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired teargas at them in Qasra village, south of Nablus, on Wednesday. Eyewitnesses told the PIC that IOF bulldozers damaged part of the power grid supplying electric current for the southern areas of the village. They said that IOF soldiers attacked the young men who tried to stop the bulldozers from carrying out their destruction. The locals said that at least four young men were injured in the soldiers’ attack while a number of others were treated for teargas suffocation, adding that the soldiers blocked ambulance crews from approaching to treat the wounded.

WATCH: The Palestinian village of Susya– a glance from within
Social TV 20 Feb — Repeated demolition attempts by the army and right-wing groups are threatening to destroy the Palestinian village of Susya. “Thus shall it be done to the people whom the state does not delighteth to honor,” (but is delighted to get a hold on their land). This is Susya’s story.

Israeli settlers renew attack on Palestinians in West Bank
AFP 21 Feb — …Israeli rights group Yesh Din said in a study published on Sunday that it had logged 35 attacks targeting olive trees, grapevines and other fruit trees between September 2011 and July 2012, but that in 99 percent of cases police had closed the investigation files for lack of evidence. On early January 2013, a group of settlers attacked Palestinians in the West Bank-located village of Jalud overnight, injuring seven people. Palestinian security officials said a two-month-old baby was among those injured. An army spokesman told AFP that the settlers had damaged two cars, thrown stones at houses and forcibly entered one home, beating a Palestinian who was afterwards taken to hospital. Clashes between Palestinians and settlers have increased in the West Bank in recent months, with a radical fringe of Israelis attacking Palestinian property, including olive trees and cars.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian shepherds in Nablus, Hebron
IMEMC 20 Feb — Wednesday February 20;  …Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the settlements file at the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the West Bank, reported that dozens of settlers of the Yitzhar illegal settlement, attacked Palestinian shepherds in Burin village, and hurled stones at them.  The settlers also hurled stones at several Palestinian homes and residents in the area, leading to clashes with the residents.
Furthermore, settlers violently attacked a Palestinian shepherd south of Hebron city, causing several injuries that required his transfer to a local hospital.  The shepherd, Khaled Abu Arram, 26, told the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem), that the settlers came from Mitzpe Yair illegal settlement, and attacked him while his sheep were grazing in Palestinian lands in the area. The settlers also broke the camera of a B’Tselem volunteer cameraman as he was documenting their attack.

Settlers invade Qusra village near Nablus
IMEMC Thursday February 21: a group of armed extremist Israeli settlers invaded, shortly after midnight, the village of Qarsa [? Qusra], south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, broke into several homes and torched six cars that belong to the residents, the Arabs48 News Website reported. Ghassan Doughlas, in charge of the Israeli settlements file at the Palestinian Authority in the northern part of the occupied West bank, stated that the settlers came from Yesh Kodesh illegal settlement, close to the village … The settlers also broke into a number of homes in the village, an issue that led to clashes with the residents. Local residents, members of a local village watch committee, confronted the settlers forcing them out of the village. Later on, Israeli soldiers invaded the village and clashed with dozens of local youths, leading to nine injuries among the residents.

Settlers deny involvement in Kusra arson
Ynet 21 Feb — The secretary for the outpost of Esh Kodesh, Aharon Katsuf, denied allegations made by Palestinians from the village of Kusra, who claimed that settlers from the outpost set six Palestinian cars ablaze during the night. “This is a libel propagated by the residents of Kusra. At Esh Kodesh, during the night, we we’re all busy sleeping, we didn’t make any mess anywhere,” the secretary said.

Israel versus Abu Jamal’s cow
Stop the Wall 18 Feb — When colonial supremacy and racial hatred are entering into a perverse spiral of folly, then not even cows are safe anymore. Yesterday in the night, Israeli settlers tried to poison the only cow of Palestinian farmer Khalid Draghmeh. It was not the first time they attacked his livestock. Already a year ago, his horse got poisoned by the same settlers. While a cow is hardly to be considered a “national security threat to the state of Israel”, it is one of the few sources of income for Khalid Draghmeh and Khalid Draghmeh’s steadfastness on his land is preventing one of the strategic settlement plans in the West Bank. As part of a series of attacks against him, his family and his property, this morning Khaled Draghmeh “Abu-Jamal” was attacked by settlers trying to enter his home. While he was fighting to defend his home, another group of settlers broke the door of the shed his only cow was in. The settlers put poison in the fodder of the cow

Israel hands eviction notices to Nablus villagers
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Israeli forces on Thursday handed four Palestinians orders to evict their homes which are slated for demolition near Nablus in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities, told Ma‘an that Mahmud Abu Jish, Fadi Ahmad, Nader Mohammad and Ahmad al-Karim were ordered to leave their homes in Beit Dajan, a village east of Nablus.

Israeli forces escort Jewish worshipers to West Bank tomb
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Hundreds of Jewish worshipers accompanied by Israeli troops visited Joseph’s tomb in Nablus in the northern West Bank overnight Wednesday, leading to clashes with locals, witnesses said. Israel forces escorted over 10 buses of Israeli worshipers through eastern Nablus, near Balata refugee camp, locals told Ma‘an, leading to clashes near the camp as Israeli troops fired tear gas at Palestinian youth. The Jewish worshipers left at around 2.30 a.m., and Israeli troops raided several neighborhoods in the area, locals said.

Israel to drill for oil in Syria’s Golan
Al Akhbar/Reuters 21 Feb — Israel has awarded its first license to drill for oil on the occupied Golan Heights to a US energy company, industry sources said on Thursday. Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. The strategic plateau has been extensively settled by Israelis and is the site of a major wind turbine project. Energy sector sources said that after Israel decided last year to allow oil and gas exploration on the Golan, Genie Energy was awarded a license to drill. The New Jersey-based company still needs further work permits for drilling to commence, a process that could take years.

Violence / Raids / Illegal arrests / Restriction of movement

Occupation arrests 6 citizens in West Bank
WEST BANK (PIC) 21 Feb — Israeli Occupation forces (IOF) arrested at early Wednesday six citizens in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and raided several villages and towns. The IOF arrested three youths in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the south of city of Bethlehem, and another young man in ‘Aida refugee camp after raiding his house. Clashes erupted between Palestinian citizens and Israeli soldiers in the ‘Aroub refugee camp north of al-Khalil, during which the soldiers arrested the young man, Ahmed Yusuf. Israeli soldiers broke into and searched two houses in the town of Yatta, south of al-Khalil and raided the towns of Edhna, Tarqumiya, Yatta, Halhoul and a number of suburbs and neighborhoods in the city. The citizen Adham Mustafa, 18 from the town of Tamoun in Tubas governorate, was also detained at dawn as he had been passing through the Hawara military checkpoint on the way to Ramallah …
Local sources in al-Malloul neighbourhood in the town of Ya‘bad reported that the occupation soldiers continued to occupy the house of Mohammed Abu Bakr in the neighbourhood for the fourth day respectively …
Meanwhile; Israeli troops stormed at dawn Wednesday the village of Arka [Arqa] and fired bullets to provoke the citizens.

IOF soldiers wound youth, arrest two others in Jenin village
JENIN (PIC) 21 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Burqin village, west of Jenin, at a late night hour on Wednesday after surrounding the entire village and isolating it from the outside world. Local sources said that the large-scale military operation started at night to arrest Samed Abul Haija, from Yamon village, who was hiding in Burqin after learning that the IOF was looking for him for the past four months. They said that the soldiers were faced with a barrage of stones and empty bottles by citizens protesting his arrest. The sources pointed out that the soldiers fired rubber bullets and gas and sonic bombs at the crowd injuring a young man in his thigh, who was taken to Jenin government hospital, while dozens others were treated for gas suffocation on the field. The sources said that the soldiers also arrested Mohammed Al-Saadi, from Jenin refugee camp, in the same raid.

In the name of oppression: Two babies at checkpoint
19 Feb by Tamar Fleishman of MachsomWatch — …In less than five minutes two ambulances from the west bank arrived at the entrance to the checkpoint and were ordered to wait. First to arrive was a ten days baby girl from Qalqilya with respiratory distress that worsen during the trip. According to the driver, the ride from Qalqilya took an hour and a half, on top of that there was the twenty minute detainment during the examination of the documents, the inspection of the mother’s belongings and the completion of the back-to-back procedure: carrying the baby from the west bank stretcher to the Jerusalem stretcher, getting her inside the ambulance from Jerusalem and heading off to Mukased hospital. Immediately after the first one, arrived a four months old baby, he was from Gaza and suffered from a kidney disease… The ambulance was detained at the entrance to the checkpoint. “No co-ordinations have been made” said the soldiers. At Augusta Victoria (where they were waiting for the child) they said that all the co-ordinations have been made … Time crawled, the minutes passed, and the Palestinian medical crew who were accustomed to dealing with occupiers, dared not to speak to the junior military men present or even to the senior ones over the phone, but again and again called the hot line of the ambulance company and Augusta Victoria hospital.

‘Can you tell me why I’m not allowed to go to the hospital?’
PCHR 20 Feb — “I was 5 months pregnant with my son when I noticed that something was growing in my upper right arm. I went to the hospital, where they told me it had to be removed. A part of it was removed and tested. It turned out to be cancer”, says Sabreen Okal (27), sitting down on a plastic stool in her modest home in Jabaliya refugee camp. Sabreen is a mother of 5 children, 4 girls and 1 boy … Despite treatment, the cancer returned and Sabreen underwent another surgery last October to remove the tumour from her arm. She says: “My doctor told me that I also need to undergo radiation therapy in a specialized hospital in Jerusalem. He explained that tumours will spread throughout my body if I don’t have radiation therapy. He prepared the necessary paperwork for me so that I could go to a specialized hospital in Jerusalem for this treatment on 20 December.” In order to travel from Gaza to the hospital in Jerusalem, Sabreen and her mother-in-law, who is due to accompany her, need to cross through the Israeli-controlled Erez border crossing. “I was told that, according to standard procedure, I had to go for an interview with the Israeli intelligence service before passing through Erez. When I arrived at the crossing on 20 December, they first had me wait in a room for 3 hours. Then I was questioned about issues that have nothing to do with my illness. They asked me if my husband was affiliated with Hamas. After the investigation, they put me in a small room for 3 more hours before they sent me back home. They didn’t allow me to go to the hospital and I don’t understand why.”

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (14-20 February 2013)
PCHR 21 Feb — The Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Palestinian civilians in the border area of the Gaza Strip 2 gravel collectors were wounded in the northern Gaza Strip.  5 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded in different shooting incidents in the West Bank. The Israeli forces conducted 58 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited incursions in the north and south of the Gaza Strip. At least 38 Palestinian civilians, including 11 children, were arrested in the West Bank. 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were arrested in the central Gaza Strip when they attempted to cross the borders into Israel looking for work. The Israeli forces continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the sea. 2 Palestinian fishermen, including a child, were wounded and 2 others were arrested off al-Sudaniya shore, north of Gaza City. The Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. 9 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children and a woman, were wounded in protests against the annexation wall and settlement activities. 21 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded in solidarity demonstrations supporting the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails….

Gaza siege

Fisherman injured and fishing boat damaged
PCHR 21 Feb — The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli Navy’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and expresses its deep concern for such escalation, which resulted in injuring two fishermen and partially damaging their boat today. According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 09:00 on Thursday, 21 February 2013, at, two Israeli gunboats attacked a Palestinian fishing boat, boarding 3 fishermen, sailing 3 nautical miles off al-Waha Resourt shore in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli soldiers fired directly at the boat. As a result, a fisherman, Ayman ‘Adnan Kabaja, 37, from Gaza City, was wounded by a rubber-coated metal bullet to the left hand. Additionally, the fishing boat, which belongs to ‘Abdullah Mohammed al-‘Absi, from Gaza City, was damaged. It should be noted that this incident occurred at 3 nautical miles, 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 soldiers raid southern Gaza amidst intermittent shooting
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 21 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided southern Gaza Strip at dawn Thursday amidst intermittent shooting. A field observer told Quds Press that six bulldozers advanced into eastern Khan Younis and bulldozed land near to the border fence. Meanwhile, IOF soldiers manning the Kissufim military outpost, to the north east of Khan Younis, opened machinegun fire at cultivated land lots to the east of Qarara town.

Medics: Newborn dies after Gaza house fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — A newborn baby girl died in hospital on Wednesday after she was severely burned in a house fire in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, medics said. Jannat Ahmad Abu Ihayyil died hours after she was admitted to intensive care at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Head of the emergency department Ayman Sahabani said Wednesday that the newborn had suffered burns to 45 percent of her body, including her head, neck and face in the fire, which was caused by a candle. The baby’s twin sister survived as she was asleep in another room. House fires have led to several fatalities in the Gaza Strip recently as residents use candles during frequent power cuts.

Gaza minister: Egypt tunnel crackdown will fail
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Feb — Egypt’s crackdown on smuggling tunnels to the Gaza Strip will not succeed unless alternatives to importing produce are provided, an official in Gaza’s Hamas-run government said Wednesday. Several days ago, Egyptian forces began flooding smuggling tunnels under the Gaza border in a campaign to shut them down. The tunnels have provided a lifeline to Palestinians since Israel intensified its blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007. “This is not the first time the Egyptian authorities have tried to shut down the tunnels, but neither of of the attempts have been successful,” Minister of Economy Alaa Rafati told Ma‘an.
The government in Gaza has informed Cairo several times that an official commercial route should be opened along the border, including a duty-free zone, Rafati said.

Hamas govt releases 50 prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Feb — The Hamas government in Gaza released 50 prisoners on Wednesday, a statement from the interior ministry said. The prisoners had all served at least two-thirds of their sentence in rehabilitation centers and were released in a ceremony attended by prison officials. During the release ceremony, prisoners promised not to commit further crimes. The Gaza interior ministry also announced that it would release a further 93 prisoners who are serving their sentence in rehabilitation centers.[Ma‘an: Gaza’s Interior Ministry on Thursday released 35 prisoners for good behavior, halfway through their sentences.]

Gaza pilgrims head to Saudi Arabia for Umrah
CAIRO (Ma‘an) 20 Feb — Over 400 pilgrims from the Gaza Strip left for Saudi Arabia on Tuesday via the Rafah crossing, border officials said. Crossing official Sami al-Mutawalli said 460 pilgrims departed for Mecca to perform the Islamic pilgrimage of Umrah.
Over 1,000 Palestinian pilgrims will fly back on Wednesday via El-Arish airport, he added.

Video: Disabled people in Gaza fight for their rights, proving they are producers not consumers
RealNews 17 February

Gaza: Kerem Shalom crossing to be enlarged
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — The European Union will fund expansion of Gaza’s Kerem Shalom crossing increasing its capacity to 500 truckloads per day, chief of the Palestinian borders and crossings department Nathmi Muhanna said Tuesday. Speaking to Ma‘an, Muhanna explained that new gates, new roads would be built as well as a waiting parking near the crossing. “Currently, about 300 truckloads of goods enter the Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom crossing, while Israel allows exporting only two or three truckloads of local products via the same crossing.”

Official: Israel allows more improvements on Gaza borders
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Feb — Israel has informed the Palestinian borders and crossings department in Ramallah that more improvements will be introduced on Gaza borders, says official. Nathmi Muhanna, chief of the borders and crossings department told Ma‘an Tuesday that Israel decided to allow entry of new empty domestic gas cylinders into the Gaza Strip. He highlighted that since several years shipping new gas cylinders to Gaza was banned. He also mentioned that 125 new cars would be allowed every week instead of 100. The Israeli authorities agreed as well to install a new phone and internet line from Israel to the Gaza Strip. According to Muhanna, four new fuel trucks and two new gas trucks will be shipped to Gaza.

Official: Israel to close Gaza crossing for Jewish holiday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Feb — Israeli authorities will close the Kerem Shalom crossing on Gaza’s border on Sunday for the Jewish holiday of Purim, a Palestinian crossings official said Wednesday. Nathmi Muhanna, PA crossings director, said in a statement that the Israelis had informed the Palestinian Authority of the closure.

Political, economic news

Israel blocks delivery of electoral rolls from Gaza to West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Feb – Israel is impeding delivery of the Palestinian electoral registers from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank at the Erez crossing, officials in Ramallah said Wednesday. According to the sources, Israel has not given the Palestinian side approval to transfer the electoral rolls which the Palestinian Central Elections Commission has updated over the past 10 days in the Gaza Strip. The rolls are supposed to be delivered to the main offices in the West Bank. The Palestinian side has been contacting the Israelis for 10 days on the issue, but the Israelis are still “haggling,” one official said.

Poll: Large majority wants immediate elections
RAMALLAH (WAFA) 17 Feb — A large majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank support holding immediate presidential and legislative elections, a new poll published Thursday said. The poll, by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) said 95% of Gaza residents and 82% of West Bank residents support the immediate holding of legislative and presidential elections.
The results found out that support for Fatah is back to its July 2012 level and reached 42%, up from 37% in December 2012, while support for Hamas has declined by four percentage points to 18% since December. Approval rate for President Mahmoud Abbas stood at 58% in the new poll compared to 45% for Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh. Approval rate for Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stood at 39%. In a two-way presidential race, Abbas could receive 64% of the votes compared to 36% for Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal or Haniyeh. For the position of a prime minister in a national unity government, 28% prefer Haniyeh while 23% prefer Fayyad. Fayyad is more popular in Gaza than in the West Bank, so is Fatah, according to the poll results.
The poll said 68% of respondents support a return to negotiations with Israel if it were to stop settlement building in the West Bank. At the same time, 69% said popular protest activities such as the erection of the Bab al-Shams camp will have real impact on ending the Israeli occupation, while 65% said they oppose a new Intifada.

Health union to go on strike for two weeks
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — The union of health workers announced Thursday an open strike in all health facilities for two weeks. In a statement, the union said that from Feb. 24 until March 10 workers will carry out a strike. Staff will work on an emergency basis by decreasing their numbers in all sectors and will treat emergency cases only.

Hamas says PA detained members in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Hamas on Thursday said Palestinian Authority security forces detained six of its members in the West Bank. Forces from the Fatah-led PA detained Hamas members in Hebron, Nablus and Qalqiliya, Hamas said in a statement.

Egypt brokering talks between Hamas and Israel on humanitarian issues
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Feb – For the second time in a week, Israeli security officials visited Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials focusing on the ceasefire brokered by Egypt last year between Israel and the Palestinian factions operating in the Gaza Strip. A high-level Hamas official told Ma‘an that the ongoing Egypt-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Islamist movement do not address “political issues but rather pure humanitarian issues.” He explained that the talks were meant to consolidate the ceasefire terms and highlighted that Israel has been violating these terms recently on a daily basis.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, dismissed claims that the ongoing talks were related to a comprehensive agreement upon which Israel could end Gaza blockade and open all crossings in exchange for demolishing all smuggling tunnels.

Palestinian officials dismiss Livni’s appointment
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — Palestinian leaders have reacted negatively to the appointment of Tzipi Livni as the head of the negotiations file with the Palestinians, describing it as a step backwards. Livni was responsible for the negotiations portfolio in 2006 and 2009, two years when little progress was made toward achieving a deal between the Palestinians and Israel. In an interview, Abbas Zaki, central committee member, said that Livni was experienced in “cheating and disinformation” and taking this position again would be considered against the Palestinian position. “Palestinians will be the only losers and they will start from zero,” said Zaki.

Activism / Solidarity

Thirsting for Justice Campaign teach-in for Palestinian water rights World Water Day — 22 March 2013
Thirsting for Justice 19 Feb — On World Water Day show your support for the Palestinian struggle for water justice, organize a teach-in to learn the facts about the context and take action in support of this basic human right. REGISTER NOW! The Thirsting for Justice Campaign calls on supporters worldwide to observe World Water Day 2013 (22 March) by organizing community teach-ins[1] to gain an accurate and factual portrayal of the challenges Palestinians under Israeli occupation face in their daily lives when accessing clean water and to promote discussion on actions in support of Palestinian water rights.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians and internationals in the West Bank will be taking part in a “walk for water justice” in the Jordan Valley to mark World Water Day, an initiative of the Thirsting for Justice Campaign and the Jenin Freedom Theater.

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Two missiles on Yarmouk refugee camp kill three Palestinians
DAMASCUS (PIC) 21 Feb — Three Palestinians were killed in the Yarmouk refugee camp, south of Damascus, on Wednesday after Syrian regime forces fired two missiles at the devastated camp. The workgroup for Palestinians in Syria said that dozens of refugees were wounded in the incident while heavy material damage was sustained. It said that many citizens left the area of the blast, noting that the same area had witnessed the return of many refugees after they could not find another shelter outside the camp.

DFLP chief hurt in Damascus explosion
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Feb — The head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine was lightly injured on Thursday in a car bomb that shook central Damascus and killed several people, a DFLP official said. Nayef Hawatmeh, 74, suffered minor injuries but did not require hospital treatment when the bomb exploded near DFLP offices in Syria, DFLP central committee member Khalid Atta told Ma‘an. Atta said the bomb had not targeted the DFLP office, which was damaged in the attack.
Palestinian ambassador to Syria Mahmud al-Khadi said the explosion also damaged the Palestinian embassy in Damascus. He reiterated that Palestine would not be drawn into the conflict in Syria and said efforts were underway to remove armed insurgents from Palestinian refugee camps.

PLO delegation head briefs Gaza factions on Syria visit
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Feb — Zakaria al-Agha headed a high-level delegation to Syria last week to discuss the situation of Palestinians caught up in the internal conflict. The PLO delegation met with Syrian officials, faction representatives in Palestinian refugee camps and officials from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Al-Agha said the visit was coordinated between different PLO factions to best protect the interests and goals of Palestinians in the country. Fatah spokesman in Gaza, Fayez Abu Aita, praised the visit and stressed that the PLO must continue to monitor the situation of Palestinian refugees caught up in the Syria conflict.

Israeli racism

Arab couple denied medical care
Ynet 21 Feb –  Are residents of Arab neighborhood expected to go without medical care due to their place of residence? Natali Seculife, a medical and emergency services company refused to send a physician for a house-call in Beit Safafa, a resident of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhood said. A call center representative told the resident that a company doctor will not visit an “Arab area.” The incident occurred a week ago, when Sonia Alias, a resident of Beit Safafa, called the service and asked for a house-call for her feverish husband.

Israel’s asylum process: White refugees, black lies
972blog 19 Feb by ‘Laissez passer’ — Since it began processing requests itself, Israel has approved only one asylum request, an albino girl from the Ivory Coast. Now the RSD unit is recommending that another albino asylum seeker be recognized as a refugee. Spread the word – albinos of Africa unite and come to Israel, you’ll be recognized as refugees here. On the other hand, if you’re black Africans, you’ll find nothing here.

Other news

From hunger-striking prisoners to occupation-tainted chocolate: A week in photos — February 14-20
Activestills 21 Feb — From Jenin to Gaza, Palestinians express solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli detention. Also, Sudanese cultural celebrations, highways through Palestinian Jerusalem communities, Nabi Saleh’s struggle, and pressure on an Israeli chocolatier.

Turkey resumes Gaza flotilla trial for ex-IDF heads
JPost 21 Feb — The trial in absentia of a group of former Israeli military commanders, including former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, restarted on Thursday at an Istanbul court. The officers are being charged with the deaths of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships in the 2010 flotilla attempt to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Prisoner X story alarms Palestinian families
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 19 Feb – The exposure of Israel’s “Prisoner X” story has alarmed several Palestinian families whose children went missing and they never learned of their fate. One of these families is Nawati family from the Gaza Strip. Family members say that Muatazz Nawati was working in Israel in the 1980s before he booked a flight to Germany. In 1982, he left his home to Israel to confirm his ticket to Germany and never came back, according to his mother … Palestinian prisoner researchers accuse Israel of holding Palestinians in secret jails.

‘Joint Israel-West Bank reality is an apartheid state’
Times of Israel 21 Feb by Raphael Ahren — As long as there is no Palestinian state and Israel rules over the West Bank, Israel is a de facto apartheid state, a former top Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday, using a highly contentious term usually employed only by radical anti-Israel activists. Alon Liel, a former Foreign Ministry director-general and ex-ambassador to South Africa, also called on President Barack Obama to stay home if he didn’t intend to warn Israelis about the dangers of an approaching ‘apartheid cliff’. “In the situation that exists today, until a Palestinian state is created, we are actually one state. This joint state — in the hope that the status quo is temporary — is an apartheid state,” Liel said at a Jerusalem conference about whether Israel is or could become an apartheid state.

Director of ‘5 Broken Cameras’ held at LAX
Ynet 21 Feb –  “I am already used to this, I don’t know any other type of life, but it kills me that my son had to learn that even outside the occupation and in America he is still a second class human,” said Emad Burnat, the Palestinian co-director of the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, about the demonstrations surrounding the West Bank security barrier in his native village of Bilin. On Wednesday evening Burnat was detained at Los Angeles International Airport for an hour and a half while he was on his way to attend the 85th Oscar Award Ceremony … When asked about his son, Burnat replied: “He is sad. He is an eight-year-old who has yet to know a single day of freedom. All I want is for his future to be brighter than my present.”

‘5 Broken Cameras’ director detained in LAX on way to Oscars (Updated)
Mondoweiss 21 Feb by Adam Horowitz — Update: 5 Broken Cameras director Emad Burnat has issued a statement on being detained at LAX: “Last night, on my way from Turkey to Los Angeles, CA, my family and I were held at US immigration for about an hour and questioned about the purpose of my visit to the United States. Immigration officials asked for proof that I was nominated for an Academy Award® for the documentary 5 BROKEN CAMERAS and they told me that if I couldn’t prove the reason for my visit, my wife Soraya, my son Gibreel and I would be sent back to Turkey on the same day. After 40 minutes of questions and answers, Gibreel asked me why we were still waiting in that small room. I simply told him the truth: ‘Maybe we’ll have to go back.’ I could see his heart sink. Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank…”

Pictures speak volumes in Oscar-nominated Israeli films
IOA 20 Feb by Jonathan Cook — Israelis have been revelling in the prospect of an Oscar night triumph next week, with two Israeli-financed films among the five in the running for Best Documentary. But the country’s right-wing government is reported to be quietly fuming that the films, both of which portray Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in a critical light, have garnered so much attention following their nominations. Guy Davidi, the Israeli co-director of 5 Broken Cameras, one of the finalists, said industry insiders had warned him that pressure was being exerted on the Academy to stop the films winning the award. “Many people in Hollywood are working very hard to make sure that neither film wins,” he said. “From Israel’s point of view, an Oscar would be a public relations disaster and mean more people get to see our films.” … Despite the publicity, showings of the films in Israel have been mainly limited to circles of intellectuals and left-wing activists.

Lebanon: Israeli drone crashes in Lebanon Valley
Ynet 20 Feb –  A Palestinian source from the Popular Front organization said an Israeli drone crashed in the Lebanon Valley, a Lebanese news site reported. The Lebanese military reported that in the last 24 hours, five Israeli drones entered Lebanese skies.

Shfaram residents wave Palestinian flags in Haifa
Ynet 20 Feb — Fifty residents of Shafaram protested outside the courts in Haifa, some waving Palestinian flags. The protest was held while the Magistrate’s Court was discussing the case against Jewish terrorist Eden Natan-Zada, who murdered four passengers on a bus in Shafaram in 2005 and was killed by an angry mob. Seven people are accused of involvement in his death. The main offense is attempted murder.

Analysis / Opinion

The PNA: Kapos of the West Bank / Abbad Yehya
The occupation of Palestine would not be complete without a little help from the Palestinian National Authority security forces. Never shy to employ a heavy hand, their raids and crackdowns in Palestinian camps are a target of new protests.
(Al Akhbar) 21 Feb — At the entrance to the ‘Aida and Izzah camps in Bethlehem, just meters away from an Israeli military tower on the separation wall, the place is thick with the presence of Palestinian National Authority (PNA) security forces. They are there to prevent young Palestinians in the camps from throwing stones or molotov cocktails at the Israeli checkpoint, as has happened several times in the last two months. Move on to the Qalandiya camp south of Ramallah where PNA security forces are carrying out a raid in search of a car that it says was seized by Palestinian youth. The PNA forces search the place and battle with camp residents until they find the vehicle and return it to the Israeli occupation army. These camps, in both Ramallah and Bethlehem, are at the center of skirmishes against the Israeli occupation, as well as sites of political and social protest against PNA policies.

A real Mideast peace process should look different / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 21 Feb — …A real peace process must start on the ground. After 46 years, the burden of proof of intent to end the occupation rests on Israel’s shoulders. The Palestinian Authority did its part long ago by declaring its intentions, ceasing terrorism and engaging in security cooperation with Israel. The proof must come from Israel now, and it must be in deeds, not words. If Israel really desires peace – and it is quite doubtful that this is so – it must engage in a series of acts that were once known as “confidence-building measures.” The first step is, of course, to freeze construction in the settlements. A country that intends to return land doesn’t build on it. That’s elementary. Afterward, prisoners should be released … It is not hard to guess the kind of turnabout in consciousness Palestinian society will undergo if it gets to see at least some of its offspring return to their homes, some after decades of imprisonment, without a deal, without a kidnapping, without pressure, solely as a demonstration of Israel’s good will. That will bring about immediate change. But for that to happen, we must first free ourselves from the bad, old pattern of zero-sum-game thinking that has accompanied the occupation from the first, according to which everything that is good for the Palestinians is bad for Israel. Afterward, we must stop the thefts and expulsions. We must stop the ethnic cleansing of the Jordan Valley and the southern Hebron hills, stop expelling shepherds from their pastures and farmers from their fields. Enough designating land as firing ranges, which is nothing more than a cover for a mini-transfer. Enough demolishing homes that were constructed illegally according to a law that never permits them to be built… [If you can’t access Haaretz, read the article here]

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About Kate

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

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3 Responses

  1. Mike_Konrad
    February 22, 2013, 2:34 pm

    I may be crazy … but how does only stay 204 days on a hunger strike?

    I thought 100 was the upper limit.

    • mondonut
      February 22, 2013, 3:54 pm

      Mike_Konrad says: I may be crazy … but how does only stay 204 days on a hunger strike? I thought 100 was the upper limit.
      Samer Issawi, the Palestinian prisoner who has been on an intermittent hunger strike for over 200 days…

      • Annie Robbins
        February 24, 2013, 2:03 pm

        that’s cuz they let him out and rearrested him. one of the reasons palestinians are responding to the cruel incarcerations now is because israel has been re arresting many of the prisoners released in the shalit deal, as well as a slew of arrests all across the WB including EJ, including hamas members and PA security officials. extremely provacative. you’d know that had you been following our reports.

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