Weekly Report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (21-27 February 2013)
PCHR 28 Feb –The Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Palestinian civilians in the border area of the Gaza Strip 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. 9 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were wounded in different shooting incidents in the West Bank, 8 of whom were wounded in Qasra village, southeast of Nablus, during a joint attack launched by the Israeli forces and settlers. The Israeli forces conducted 51 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. At least 56 Palestinian civilians, including 26 children, were arrested, 36 of whom were arrested during incursions, 17 in peaceful protests and 3 from their farmlands. The Israeli forces continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the sea. A Palestinian fisherman was wounded and fishing boats were attacked 7 times during the reporting period. The Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. 14 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, a woman and a journalist, were wounded in protests against the annexation wall and settlement activities. 33 Palestinian civilians, including 9 children, were wounded in solidarity demonstrations supporting the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. [details follow]
Army kidnapped 382 Palestinians, including 10 women, in February
IMEMC 1 Mar — The Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies and Human Rights reported, Thursday, that Israeli soldiers kidnapped 382 Palestinians, including 10 women, in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and the Gaza Strip in February. The center said that six Palestinians were kidnapped in the Gaza Strip while the rest were kidnapped in the West Bank, including 10 who were kidnapped in Nablus, in northern West Bank. Some of the kidnapped Palestinians were released later on. The Ahrar Center also reported that 38 of the kidnapped Palestinians [were] taken prisoner at military roadblocks in different parts of the West Bank. Two patients were kidnapped at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) terminal, between the Gaza Strip and Israel, despite the fact that they were granted permits to enter Israel for urgently needed medical treatment … Furthermore, the army kidnapped several political leaders of the Hamas movement, including three elected legislators. The Ahrar Center said that the arrests carried out by the army in February witnessed a sharp increase comparing to January as the army kidnapped 350 Palestinians last month.
Palestine: Prisoner torture ignites West Bank flashpoints
Ramallah (Al-Akhbar) 28 Feb by Abbad Yehya — In the occupied West Bank, protests took a dramatic turn after Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat was tortured to death in Israeli custody. Over the past few weeks, ongoing rallies have protested the mistreatment of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, but Jaradat’s death escalated events to the point where many are reminded of the first weeks of the 2000 intifada, when hundreds of Palestinians flocked to Israeli army checkpoints, armed with stones and Molotov cocktails. “In the clashes taking place near Ofer Prison, the youths only call an ambulance when someone is hit with live ammunition,” said a Red Crescent paramedic. “But for those hit by rubber bullets or tear gas, it is simply not possible to deal with all their injuries.”
After a week of protests, conditions are ripe for a popular uprising across the West Bank
Mondoweiss 28 Feb by Allison Deger — “I hate going to demonstrations at Ofer,” said a Palestinian activist last Thursday alongside a few hundred protesters outside the Israeli West Bank military court and prison. The protest was in solidarity with hunger striker Samer Issawi who had fasted for over 210 days. An hour later the Israeli military lobbed the day’s largest round of gas into the crowd and, not able to outrun the toxic cloud, a handful of protesters were trapped inside 30 meters of opaque white gas. After it cleared paramedics rushed to demonstrators lying unconscious in the street. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported over 60 Palestinians were injured, marking the beginning of escalated demonstrations across the West Bank that have continued over the past week. In recent weeks Ofer prison has become a hotbed for solidarity actions against the incarceration of Issawi and 11 other long-term hunger-striking prisoners. Due to the terrain these marches are particularly dangerous for Palestinian activists.
20 Palestinians injured near Ofer prison
IMEMC/Agencies 28 Feb — Palestinian medical sources in Ramallah, in the central West Bank, reported that at least twenty Palestinians have been injured during clashes that took place with Israeli soldiers near the Ofer Israeli prison, south of the city. Three residents were kidnapped. Eyewitnesses reported that the army fired dozens of rubber-coated metal bullets at the residents leading to twenty injuries, and that dozens of Palestinians have been treated for the effects of teargas inhalation. The clashes took place after the army attacked nonviolent protesters marching in solidarity with the Palestinian detainees held by Israel. Furthermore, soldiers chased dozens of protesters and kidnapped three of them, in addition to violently attacking and beating one protester leading to various cuts and bruises. Students of the Birzeit University organized the protest in solidarity with all detainees held by Israel … They were also protesting the death of Arafat Jaradat
WATCH: Demonstration to open Shuhada Street in Hebron
SocialTV 27 Feb — On Friday February 22, 2013, a demonstration took place in Hebron protesting the restrictions placed on Palestinians’ freedom of movement on Shuhada Street in the city. Shuhada Street has been closed to Palestinians for over a decade (ever since the second Intifada began in October 2000 and seven years after Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein killed 19 Palestinians at the nearby Ibrahimi Mosque); Israeli settlers are free to use the street. More than anything, the closure of Shuhada Street is an expression of Israel’s undeclared racial segregation policies, and their implications. Ever since it was closed to Palestinians, life in the city-center of Hebron has been destroyed — businesses were closed and many families were forced to leave their homes due to the inability to move freely and make a living.
IOF soldiers arrest Palestinian man in Al-Khalil, storm nearby villages
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 28 Feb — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) arrested a Palestinian man in Al-Khalil city and stormed a number of villages in the province on Thursday morning. Local sources said that IOF soldiers detained Mahmoud Khalaf after breaking into his home and searching it in Al-Khalil city. They said that the soldiers barged into three suburbs in southern Al-Khalil and stormed two villages west of the city, set up roadblocks and checked IDs without making further arrests.
In light of findings of autopsy report on Arafat Jaradat’s body, PCHR calls for independent international investigation
27 Feb — The autopsy report prepared by Dr Saber al-‘Aloul, Director of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute on Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian detainee who died in an Israeli prison, has concluded that Jaradat’s death was caused by nervous shock resulting from severe pain, which was caused by multiple injuries inflicted through direct and extreme torture. “Arafaf Shalish Shaheen Jaradat, 30, from Sa’ir village northeast of Hebron in the southern West Bank, died in Megiddo Prison inside Israel on Saturday, 23 February 2013. Israeli authorities claimed that he died due to an apparent heart attack, but the Palestinian Authority and numerous human rights organisations raised doubts concerning the Israeli narrative, and are calling for an independent investigation into Jaradat’s death.” An autopsy of Jardat’s body was performed in the Israeli National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir in the presence of Dr Saber al-‘Aloul and two Israeli physicians on the day after his death. Contrary to Israeli claims that Jaradat died due to an apparent heart attack, the autopsy showed, according to the Palestinian physician’s report, that “the heart muscle is perfectly healthy; no signs of harm or signs of a recent or previous myocardial infarction […]” The report indicated that there were multiple injuries on Jaradat’s body.
B’Tselem inquiry: No justification for shooting and killing Samir ‘Awad, 16
21 Feb — On 15 January 2013, 16-year-old Palestinian Samir ‘Awad was killed by live ammunition that Israeli soldiers fired at him near the Separation Barrier at Budrus. A B’Tselem inquiry reveals that the soldiers were not in danger at any time. Nevertheless, and in total contravention of open-fire regulations, they shot ‘Awad three times.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement
WATCH: Jewish settlers await the destruction of Bedouin village in Negev
972mag 28 Feb by Nadia Ben-Youssef — Jewish settlers have been camped out in an illegal settlement in the Negev (Naqab) forest of Yatir for two and a half years, waiting for the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hieran to be razed so they can move in and build an exclusively-Jewish settlement on its ruins. Deep within Yatir Forest in the Negev (Naqab), on “this side” of the Green Line, there is a temporary settlement where 30 settler families are waiting. Waiting for the promised moment when the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hieran is destroyed; waiting for its roughly 500 residents to be forcibly displaced; and waiting for their exclusively-Jewish town of Hiran to be built in its place … I’m not unfamiliar with the alternate universe of the Negev (Naqab), and have even become accustomed to issuing a daily self-reminder to believe what I see. And yet, last week I found myself wandering about in a state of utter bewilderment. There had been rumors that such an encampment existed. But as the temporary settlement — let us call it an outpost — was established in contravention of the Regional Master Plan, not even the residents of Umm al-Hieran had been able to locate it.
Confrontation between Israeli police force and Bedouins
NEGEV (PIC) 27 Feb — Israeli police forces stormed the village of Beir Hadaj in the Negev to serve demolition notices on Tuesday and were confronted by inhabitants protesting the step. Palestinian sources said that the demolition notices distributed to a number of houses at the pretext of building without permit triggered the confrontations. They said that the inhabitants threw stones at the policemen and set tires on fire while the policemen fired rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades at the protesters and arrested three of them.
Israel orders residents to leave homes in Tubas
JENIN (WAFA) 28 Feb — Israeli forces Thursday handed Palestinians in Tubas notices to leave their homes next Tuesday to conduct military trainings, said witnesses. They said that the residents of Ras al-Ahmar village were ordered to leave their land next Tuesday from 6:00 AM till 6:00 PM because the army wants to conduct military trainings in the area. The Jordan Valley Solidarity movement said that such trainings are ““extremely dangerous”, because many Palestinians were injured as a result of these shooting exercises and the mines left behind following the training.
Firing Zone 918
B’Tselem 27 Feb — Background: What if someone were to barge into your home, declare it a military training zone and evict you? That’s the case for some 1000 Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills. The Israeli military called their homes Firing Zone 918 and has been trying to expel them for years. Their appeal is currently in court… [this page links to a map of the area with its 12 villages, the testimonies of Palestinians from villages in the area, and an info sheet prepared by The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) together with Rabbis for Human Rights and Breaking the Silence.]
Students clash with Israeli settlers in Burin
NABLUS (WAFA)28 Feb — A group of students in the village of Burin Thursday clashed with settlers after the latter attacked the village, said local sources. Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activities in the north of the West Bank, said that the settlers and students confronted and hurled stones at each other after the settlers raided the village. The Israeli soldiers chased after the students left the school, however, no injuries or arrests were reported.
‘They wanted me to list every young Palestinian that I knew,’ says Palestinian-American deported by Israel
EI 27 Feb by Maureen Clare Murphy — On Christmas day last year, Nour Joudah, a young Palestinian American teaching English to high schoolers at the Quaker-affiliated Friends school Ramallah, left the occupied West Bank to Jordan for a ten-day holiday. What was meant to be a short visit turned into a two-month stay after Israel denied Joudah entry at Allenby crossing on 5 January, even though she has a multiple-entry work visa approved by Israel’s interior ministry. Joudah attempted to return to the West Bank again via Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on Monday, upon the advice of the Israeli embassy after inquiries were made by members of US Congress on her behalf. But Joudah was once again denied entry and sent back to Jordan on Tuesday. Joudah, who occasionally blogs for The Electronic Intifada, talked to me about her ordeal today via Skype.
Israel actions specifically targeting Jerusalem
Israel escalates measures against Jerusalemites, says Fatah Council member
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 28 Feb — Member of Fatah Revolutionary Council Dimitri Diliani Thursday said that Israel is constantly escalating its oppressive measures against the Palestinians of East Jerusalem, especially in Silwan and Issawiya. He said that Israeli police regularly raid the homes of Palestinians, arrest children and teens and assault women and elderly. Diliani said that in Issawiya alone, about 170 Palestinians were arrested in January, while in Silwan the youngest detainee was six years old. Diliani pointed out that the police deliberately wreak havoc on Palestinians’ homes and shoot rubber[-coated] bullets inside.
Israeli forces ‘detain Fatah leaders in Jerusalem’
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Israeli forces on Thursday detained multiple Fatah leaders in Jerusalem, officials said. Omar al-Shalabi, the secretary of the Fatah committee in Jerusalem, and Nidal Abu Gharbeyeh, who is Fatah secretary in al-Sawwanah, Wadi Joz and Sheikh Jarrah area were also detained. Adnan Ghaith, Fatah secretary in Silwan, Abdul Salam al-Hidreh, Fatah secretary in al-Tur, Khaled Gharabli, Fatah secretary in Beit Hanina, Shuafat and Issawiya areas were detained. Also, Muna Barbar was detained. The Fatah leaders were taken to an investigation center in Jerusalem, party officials said.
High Court appeal against construction of Road #4
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 27 Feb — The locals of Beit Safafa appealed through Lawyer Kais Yussef to the High Court against the Main Court’s decision. The court had agreed to allow licensing of the construction of Road #4 planned by the Municipality of Jerusalem. This road will drastically affect life in Beit Safafa as it will demolish the area to connect northern and southern Israeli settlements in Jerusalem. During the appeal Kais Nasser asked for the roadwork to be halted. The High court ordered the municipality to respond to the appeal by next Thursday
Israeli highway hits Palestinian village ‘like a tsunami’
EI 28 Feb by Maath Musleh — Residents in Beit Safafa, south of Jerusalem, are resisting a planned highway that will cause irreparable harm to their village. Highway 50, as the project is known, is planned to connect the Gush Etzion bloc of Israeli settlements with settlements in the northern part Jerusalem. The project is part of Israel’s wider plan for asserting its control over the greater Jerusalem area, as it continues to annex and confiscate lands south of the city in violation of international law. Beit Safafa and the nearby village Sharafat were divided in the 1970s by the construction of Gilo road, built to connect the newly-built settlement Gilo to the city. Beit Safafa and Sharafat, historically inseparable, will now be divided into four parts with the construction of Highway 50. This plan has triggered mass protests in a village which has not witnessed large-scale resistance since the first intifada.
IOA chops down olive trees in Shufat
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 27 Feb — The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) chopped down olive trees in Shu‘fat [refugee camp] land threatened with confiscation [in the] north[east] of occupied Jerusalem. The IOA-controlled municipality of Jerusalem cut off those trees on Tuesday in preparation for constructing road 21. The Israeli antiquities authority launched a campaign of digging in the area to make sure that no ancient relics were underground before starting the infrastructure building. The targeted land lot is 8.5 dunums in area and is owned by Abu Nee Hamdan family that has documents to prove its grandparents’ legal ownership of the land.
Woman injured, three including physician arrested in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM, February 27, 2013 (WAFA) – A woman was injured early Wednesday during an Israeli police arrest campaign in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, according to witnesses. They said police arrested three people, including a woman physician, identified as Amani Odeh, during a pre-dawn raid on their homes in Silwan. Confrontations broke out between residents and police during the raid. Police fired rubber-coated metal bullets at the protesters hitting Odeh’s sister-in-law in the face that required admitting her to hospital for treatment. Odeh, whose brother is in Israeli custody and father a former prisoner and active in the neighborhood against Israeli attempts to demolish homes, was arrested after searching her home and seizing her personal computer and cellular phone. Police ransacked the home, said the witnesses. Police also raided the homes of Khaled Shweiki, 33, and Adli Maragha, 31, and arrested both of them and seized their computers after causing heavy damage to their homes during the search.
Israel magistrate court extends 10 arrests … and releases others under conditions
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 27 Feb — Today the Israeli Magistrate court arrested 10 Jerusalemites, stating they will be held until Wednesday and Thursday for investigations. One man was released under the condition of staying away from al-Aqsa. Lawyer Muhammad Mahmood from the organisation al Dameer said the magistrate court extended the arrest of four men from al Essawiye until next Thursday … They also extended the arrest of 19-year-old Alaa Zg’ir, 28-year-old Hijazi Abu Sbeh and Mahmood Abd al Latif for investigation. They were arrested yesterday from the Old City after the settlers’ raid on al-Aqsa. The prosecution accused them of participating in the incidents which took place in the mosque last Friday. The court extended the arrest of 23-year-old Rami Saleh al Fakhoury and 14 year- old Amer Said until next Thursday. They were also accused of participating in Friday’s incidents following their dawn arrests from their houses in Bab al Hatta. Rami’s father said the forces, alongside the intelligence forces, raided Bab Hatta. They searched the house, confiscating Rami’s shoes and clothes before arresteding him. They also requested Rami’s parents to go to al Maskubiye for investigations. His mother was unable to go due to her illness, however his father went. His father was asked about Rami’s activities in al Aqsa on Friday. He explained that his son is studying for exams; he is studying Islamic Shari‘a in the Qur’an Department of Al Quds University in Abu Dis.
Prisoners / Hunger strikers / Court actions
Minister: PA rejects deporting hunger strikers
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — The Palestinian Authority has rejected an Israeli proposal to deport detainees Samer Issawi or Ayman Sharawna, who have been on hunger for over 200 days, the prisoners minister said Thursday. “We refuse forced deportation because it is an international crime that international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions condemn,” Issa Qaraqe said in a statement.
Group: Qaadan, Azzidine suspend hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — Tareq Qaadan and Jafar Azzidine on Wednesday suspended their 93-day hunger strike after a hearing held at a hospital near Tel Aviv, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said. Qaadan and Azzidine suspended their strike after an Israeli military prosecutor said their administrative detention order would not be renewed, the PPS said in a statement. Their current detention order expires on May 21. They will consider renewing the strike depending on the outcome of the next hearing on March 6. In Assaf Harofeh Hospital, where the prisoners are being treated, a military judge said she would reveal the secret charges and evidence against the men and issue a final decision at their next hearing, said lawyer Jawad Bulous … Both men attended Wednesday’s hearing in wheelchairs. They were due to appear at Ofer military court near Ramallah on Tuesday but the hearing was postponed as the detainees were too sick to attend.
Israeli court refuses to end administrative detention of prisoner Ayud Dudin
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 27 Feb — The Palestinian prisoner center for studies said the Israeli justice court in occupied Jerusalem rejected the appeal filed by the lawyer of Hamas-affiliated prisoner Ayed Dudin against his administrative detention for more than one and a half years…
In another incident, the Israeli military court postponed on Tuesday its decision to expand the administrative detention of senior Hamas official Ra‘fat Nasif for more six months and ordered to keep him in prison until further notice. His lawyer stated that Nasif is still in Jalama jail and suffers from inhumane incarceration conditions. The Israeli occupation forces kidnapped Nasif recently, a few months after his release from an Israel jail where he had spent 44 months in administrative detention.
Child sentenced to 19 months
IMEMC — Thursday February 28, 2013, The Ofer Israeli Military Court sentenced a Palestinian child to 19 months imprisonment allegedly for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers in Hebron, in the southern part of the occupied West Bank. The child has been identified as Mahmoud Ghneimat, from Surif town, near Hebron. Israeli soldiers kidnapped him, along with several other children, ages 14-18, several months ago, and imposed fines on most of the kidnapped children, and sentenced some of them to 6-18 months.
Judge acquits Arab protesters, slams Israeli police for trumped-up charges
Haaretz 27 Feb by Jack Khoury — Judge acquits four young Arabs who participated in a demonstration against Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, ruling ‘the prosecution does not have one shred of evidence that could lead to a conviction.’ The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court acquitted Tuesday morning three young Arab women and a young Arab man of the offenses of participating in an illegal assembly, causing a disturbance and assaulting police officers, during a demonstration against Operation Cast Lead in 2008.
In photos: Every Monday, families of Palestinian detainees gather in Gaza’s Red Cross
Mondoweiss 28 Feb by Joe Catron — Every Monday morning families of Palestinians detained by Israel gather in the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Gaza Strip headquarters. An organizer said in 2011 that the event, which began after the redeployment of Israeli forces following the Oslo accords in 1994, “could enter the Guinness book of records for the longest running weekly sit-ins in the world.”
The pain of almost a million arrests
Haaretz 28 Feb by Gideon Levy — The same society that was so upset by the fate of a single prisoner, Gilad Shalit, does not even begin to grasp the depth of distress the Palestinians feel over the thousands of their people who are in prison – Eight hundred thousand. That is the number of Palestinian residents arrested and imprisoned in Israeli jails since the beginning of the occupation, according to The New York Times. Almost a million people. That estimate could be a bit high; some say it’s “only” 600,000. After all, there is no exact number. But the general picture is clear and chilling: When people say that Israel imprisons the Palestinian people, this is what they mean: the physical, concrete, overcrowded and torturous imprisonment of people in jail. It’s not just the checkpoints, the separation fence and the psychological barriers, but the real ones as well. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live under the occupation have endured that experience, if only once in their lives … The jail term could be decades — there are still 123 prisoners from before the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords — or it could be a matter of only a few days. It usually starts with a brutal home invasion, almost always in the dead of night, in the presence of the wife, parents and children, shocked out of their sleep and anxious about the fate of their humiliated loved one.
Report: Gaza patient dies at crossing on way to Israeli hospital
GAZA (WAFA) 27 Feb — A diabetic patient, 41 years old, infected with the H1N1 virus and in critical condition, died in the security area inside Erez terminal between the Gaza Strip and Israel minutes after he was placed in an Israeli ambulance, a report by the World Health Organization’s office in the occupied Palestinian territories said Wednesday. The report on monthly referral of Gaza Strip patients to get medical treatment outside the besieged Strip said the patient was on route to a hospital in Israel when he died at the crossing. Resuscitation efforts by both Palestinian and Israeli ambulance crews were unsuccessful, it said. Palestinian ambulances are not permitted to leave Gaza with patients and therefore patients must be transferred from the Palestinian ambulance, and carried on a gurney to an Israeli ambulance at Erez crossing some distance away.
The report said that applications were submitted for 796 patients to the Israeli District Liaison Office (DCL) in January for permits to cross Erez and access hospitals in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, in Israel or Jordan. Of the total, 738 (92.7%) received permits to cross Erez and two were denied. The two denied patients were a 33-year-old man with cancer who was approved later after submitting a detailed medical report and a 27-year-old woman with a kidney stone who is still denied. Both were referred to a hospital in Hebron in the West Bank. According to the report, 56 patients (21 females and 35 males, 7% of the total applicants) did not receive a response and therefore lost their appointments in the hospitals; nine of them were children under 18 years, seven were over 60 years, and 11 were oncology- hematology patients.
PCHR concerned about new Ministry of Interior Affairs procedure requiring prior approval before permitting travel via Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing
28 Feb — …On Wednesday, 27 February 2013, the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs issued a decision obliging civilians wishing to travel via Beit Hanoun crossing to refer to the Ministry to acquire necessary approval. According to a statement by the Ministry, this decision is applicable to individuals wishing to visit family in the West Bank and Israel, those to Jordan or through Israeli airports, and students wishing to study abroad who need to attend interviews with consulates. This decision increases the suffering of the already limited groups of people who are permitted to travel via the crossing by the Israeli forces. Freedom of movement is already severely restricted by Israel; travellers have to wait many hours before being allowed to pass through the crossing and they are subjected to humiliating treatment. Additionally, most individuals are only informed of the Israeli authorities’ decision to grant them travel permits a few hours prior to their departure. This makes it impossible for them to refer to the Ministry of Interior to obtain prior approval for their travel. The travel permits issued by Israel are often limited to one day.
Did a Gaza family burn to death because of an unpaid bill?
EI 28 Feb by Rami Almeghari — With their electricity cut off, the Dheir family had no choice other than to rely on candles for lighting. Their desperation had deadly consequences. On 30 January, six members of the family were burnt to death from a fire caused by the candles. Qamar Dheir was only three months old. The baby perished along with three other children — Mahmoud (11), Nabil (6) and Farah (3) — and their parents Hazem (30) and Samar (27). That morning, people in the Gaza neighborhood of al-Shajaiyeh woke up to learn they had a depressing task to perform: to help bury a young family … According to Zaina, a crew from the Gaza Electric Company had arrived at the Dheirs’ house the previous morning and cut off its power supply. Zaina is struggling to understand why this measure was taken. Hazem’s salary, he said, was paid by the Palestinian Authority and around $60 was deducted from it each month to pay for electricity bills.
Israeli nighttime overflights in Gaza panic civilians
GAZA (PIC) 27 Feb — Israeli warplanes on Tuesday night overflew intensively the densely populated Gaza Strip causing panic among the civilians. Local sources reported that some F-16 jet fighters flew at high altitudes over Gaza late on Tuesday night, causing loud sonic booms. These Israeli overflights took place after Israeli sources claimed that a grad rocket fell in Ashkelon city. However, the Hamas-affiliated government in Gaza categorically denied that any resistance faction had launched any rocket attack on Israeli targets. Civilians in Gaza had expressed fears that these overflights would be the start for a new spate of deadly aerial raids on their populated areas.
Batfish return to Gaza shore
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 27 Feb — Fishermen say the locally rare batfish stingray is making a comeback in the waters off the coast of Gaza. For the first time in five years, fishermen say they are catching the rays by the hundreds. The batfish ray takes a triangular shape with large wings — some are as large as 80 kilograms. A kilo of the ray sells for 10 shekels ($2.68) in local markets.
Gaza’s massive haul of devil rays sparks big fish story
[with two videos] Times of Israel 28 Feb by Ilan Ben Zion — …Videos published on YouTube showed Gazan fishermen lugging the massive fish out of boats offshore, and butchering them on the beach with machetes before carting them off. The fishermen can be clearly seen in the video offloading the fish and lining them up in neat rows on the sand. Once images of rows of dead rays lined up on the Gaza beach were photographed by the press, however, the story began to metamorphose — from a large and interesting catch at sea, to a purported mass death mystery.
Kerem Shalom closed for third day in a row
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 28 Feb — Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing point in the Gaza Strip for the third day in a row Thursday after a projectile fired from Gaza struck Israeli territory Monday.
Three Palestinian refugees killed in Syria
DAMASCUS (PIC) 28 Feb — Three Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria over the past couple of days due to sniper fire and shrapnel of bombs. Local ‘Al-Quds’ daily quoted “special sources” as saying that a boy was killed when a mortar shell blasted near his school in Qabun neighborhood in the capital Damascus. They said that a number of Palestinian and Syrian students were injured in the same explosion that killed Mohammed Al-Hindi. A young woman was also killed in another bomb explosion while walking in Aruba street in Yarmouk refugee camp. A young man, Mazen Barshali, was pronounced dead on Wednesday after a sniper hit him in the head in Aydeen refugee camp in Homs on Tuesday.
Officer’s racial slurs lead to his dismissal
Ynet 27 Feb by Noam (Dabul) Dvir — A police officer who posted racist remarks on his Facebook page regarding the alleged attack of an Arab woman in Jerusalem on Monday, will be discharged and return to the IDF, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said on Wednesday at a press conference concluding the 2012 year. The police on Wednesday began to investigate the incident, which occurred between the young Arab woman and a group of young Jewish women near the Light Rail station in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem. Moreover, the police had to simultaneously contend with the racist slurs made by a man in uniform named Ariel Shapiro, who wrote the following on his Facebook wall: “Too bad the Arab whore didn’t die.” The post was brought to the attention of the police, who easily located the man
Israel to probe birth control for Ethiopian immigrants
JERUSALEM (Reuters) 28 Feb — Israel’s Health Ministry has ordered an investigation into whether government employees or health workers prescribed a birth control drug to Ethiopian immigrant women as a way to control the population.
Ethiopian-Israeli wins Miss Israel pageant for first time
Forward 27 Feb — Yityish Aynaw, a former Israeli army officer, became the first Ethiopian-Israeli to win the Miss Israel pageant. A panel of judges awarded the title to Aynaw, a 21-year-old model who came to Israel about a decade ago, at the International Convention Center Haifa on Wednesday … During the competition, Aynaw cited the slain American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. as one of her heroes. “He fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here: I want to show that my community has many pretty qualities that aren’t always represented in the media,” she said.
Political, other news
Al-Qassam denounced a fabricated statement bearing its name
GAZA (PIC) 28 Feb — Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades denied issuing a statement that includes a threat to the Egyptian army, condemning publishing a fabricated statement bearing the name of the Brigades by some of Egyptian media. Al-Qassam Brigades expressed surprise and strong condemnation, in a press statement on Wednesday, regarding publishing a fabricated statement carrying the name of the Brigades by some of Egyptian media which includes a threat to the Egyptian army and a warning of military operations against it … The Brigades affirmed that the fabricated statement does not reflect the Brigades’ ethics and policies, adding that whoever is behind this statement does not want concord between the Egyptian and Palestinian people.
EU diplomats recommend sanctions against Israeli settlements
972mag 27 Feb by Michael Omer-Man — European diplomatic heads of mission in Jerusalem submit report to Brussels calling on the EU and its member states to take economic measures to stop Israel’s settlement enterprise, and to prevent European companies from supporting the settlements … The report, obtained by +972, describes Israeli settlements as “the biggest single threat to the two-state solution,” and recommends specific measures that Brussels could or should take in order to mitigate that threat. Read the full report here
After dissing Oscar nominees, Israel’s culture minister urges filmmakers to ‘self-censor’
Haaretz 28 Feb by Nirit Anderman — First, not a single cabinet member bothered to congratulate the directors of Israel’s two Oscar-nominated documentaries this year. Now, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat has said she is not the least bit sorry that neither “The Gatekeepers” nor “5 Broken Cameras” brought home the statuette in their category. And in an interview she expressed regret over what she said were “too many movies” made in the past few years “that libel Israel throughout the world.” In response, four professional organizations for Israeli filmmakers — representing producers, directors, screenwriters and documentarians — on Thursday sent Livnat a letter of protest.
The BDS movement explained / Omar Barghouti
NY Daily News 25 Feb — Why I’ve boycotted Israel — In many media reports on the recent panel held at Brooklyn College on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, BDS was subjected to relentless vilification and unfounded allegations. This was yet another ruthless campaign to demonize and shut down all criticism of Israel. Following congressional Israel-centered bullying of secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel, it is further evidence of the rise of a new McCarthyism — one that uses unconditional allegiance to Israel as the litmus test of loyalty. Indeed, suppressed in all media coverage of the Brooklyn College controversy were Palestinian voices — like mine — who can best explain why Palestinians have embarked on this nonviolent, rights-based struggle for our rights, and how it is deeply inspired by the South African anti-apartheid and the U.S. civil rights movements. Despite the intimidation campaign waged against it, Brooklyn College — with support from civil libertarians and influential liberal voices — upheld academic freedom and allowed the BDS event on Feb. 7 to proceed.
BDS roundup: Future professionals demand TIAA-CREF divest from Israel’s rights violations
EI 27 Feb by nora – In this latest roundup of news from the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement: Future clients of pension fund giant TIAA-CREF call for divestment from companies profitting from Israel’s occupation; Shuggie Otis cancels Tel Aviv performance while activists call on Alicia Keys and Depeche Mode do the same; Queen Mary, University of London students union votes to boycott G4S and Veolia; Veolia’s bid for street cleaning contract is withdrawn in Liverpool; London solidarity protest with Hebron includes BDS de-shelving action; Palestinian organizations call for boycott of Israeli diamonds; Palestinian BDS National Committee statement on boycott of individuals; and much more.
Oxford student union votes down Israel boycott
Haaretz 27 Feb by Alona Ferber — Jewish students union responds to vote, stating that result shows ‘Israelis are welcome at Oxford’ and sends a clear statement that students will not be marginalized on the basis of their nationality – The Oxford University Student Union voted down a motion on Wednesday calling for a boycott of Israel, its institutions, goods and produce. According to the record of the vote at the prestigious university, 69 voted against the motion, 10 voted in favor, and 15 abstained. Along with the boycott, the motion had also called for the university’s students union, and for Britain’s National Union of Students, to join the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
PLO demands boycott of Jerusalem marathon
Al Arabiya 28 Feb — The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Wednesday, called for runners and sponsors to boycott the 2013 Jerusalem Marathon, according to Israel National News. The PLO said that involvement in the marathon will imply acceptance of Israel’s illegal annexation of eastern Jerusalem. AFP reported that the PLO urged “all participants and sponsors of the International Jerusalem Winner Marathon to withdraw their sponsorship and participation or else become complicit in covering up Israel’s grave human rights abuses in its occupation of the State of Palestine.” The race, which is set to take place on Friday, will be attended by thousands of runners who will take part in either the full 42-kilometer marathon, half marathon or the 10 kilometer dash.
Farmers’ markets bypass foreign aid to Palestine
Ramallah (IPS) 28 Feb by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours — Local food for local people. That’s the idea behind Sharaka (“partnership” in Arabic), an entirely volunteer-run, Palestinian organization that aims to bring locally grown products directly to Palestinian dinner tables. “Our vision is a food-sovereign Palestine where we’re economically independent, we use our local resources and we support each other. That leads to human development. It’s local economy. Through a local economy and a local food system, that’s how you build community,” said volunteer and Sharaka co-founder Aisha Mansour … The group has also refused to take any international aid to support its work. “It’s a broken system. Everybody knows that,” Mansour said, referring to the international aid and development model currently in place. “Local people who know their community, who want to develop and support, they do things. That’s how they develop. That’s how development happens; it’s not an externally imposed thing.” Palestinians are among the largest per capita recipients of international aid in the world … Nora Lester Murad is a volunteer and co-founder of Dalia, a Palestinian organization that advocates better use of local resources, and development that meets Palestinian goals. She said that while international aid has brought some benefits to Palestinian society — including jobs and basic institution-building — it has largely been destructive.
Analysis / Opinion / History / Human interest
From Hebron’s streets to Ofer’s walls: a week in photos – February 21-27
Activestills 28 Feb — This week: Palestinians protest for access to a segregated street in Hebron while Israeli settlers freely march on it during Purim; reactions to the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat; a teen is shot by Israeli forces; and right-wingers mock hunger strikers at Ofer military prison.
A vain hope – Israel does not allow the return of Palestinians, even when dead.
‘I hope I will be buried in my home, Isdod’
PCHR 28 Feb – (photo: Mohammed (85) shows his ID card which was issued by the Municipality of Isdod in 1947) Mohammed Mohammed Mohammed Tuman (85) was 19 years old when, on 20 December 1948, he and his family were forced to flee their home in Isdod, now known as Ashdod. Victims of the Nakba (meaning ‘catastrophe’), they fled along with their entire village of around 8,500 people. For some time before, inhabitants of other villages had been arriving in Isdod in their hundreds, bringing with them terrible accounts of the massacres they had witnessed in places such as Qibya, Basheet, Deir Yassin, and the Dahmash mosque. No longer safe from the threat of attack by Jewish groups, with the Egyptian army withdrawing from the area, some 30,000 people set out on foot and walked for days until they reached relative safety. Mohammed recounts his memories of the day his family was displaced from their home: “We were so afraid that we would be killed. Already, 48 villagers had been killed, including my brother, Ahmed, who was killed by Jewish settlers as he took part in the resistance. 15 more had been taken prisoner. I kept a note of the name of every person who was killed or imprisoned. I have that record still. On that day, my father sent me to speak with the Egyptian commander, to ask him what they would do. I could not meet him, but I spoke to an Egyptian soldier. I asked him, ‘Are you going to stay and defend us, or withdraw?’ He answered that he did not know, but said that he would ask someone. By 4 o’clock that afternoon, there were no soldiers left. The Jewish groups from the nearby settlement of Nizanim were well-armed. They had weapons, tanks, and warplanes. We had nothing. We had to leave.”
IDF busy classifying different types of bullets while children are being shot / Mairav Zonszein
972mag 27 Feb – The IDF long ago banned the use of .22 caliber bullets for crowd control, but appears to have been used to shoot at a 13-year-old Palestinian boy earlier this week. The doctor treating him claims it was a dum-dum bullet, an expanding bullet illegal under international law — Mohammad al-Kurdi, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy from the ‘Aida refugee camp just outside Bethlehem, is lying in the intensive care unit of a Beit Jala hospital due to internal injuries he suffered from IDF fire on Monday … The IDF spokesperson told me that they proceeded to shoot what they define as live ammunition (as distinct from accepted crowd dispersal methods, which include sometimes lethal rubber-coated bullets) at the Palestinian “main inciters” only after “makeshift grenades” were hurled at them; standard IDF rules of engagement. According to an eyewitness on the ground I spoke to, Mohammad and other children who were in the line of fire did not throw any “makeshift grenades” of any kind, but were rather playing with fireworks.
A young doctor fights the depression epidemic in Palestine / Bruce Upbin
Forbes 27 Feb — Forty percent of Palestinians are clinically depressed, a rate unmatched anywhere in the word. It’s more than triple that of the U.S., ten times higher than in the U.K., and four to eight times higher than in Scandinavia, where the sun doesn’t shine for a good part of the year. For Palestinian neuroscientist Mohammad Herzallah, this epidemic is an opportunity, if a tragic one, because it has made his country an ideal place to do groundbreaking research into the effects of depression on the brain. I caught up with the 27-year-old doctor at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif. this week. Herzallah grew up in Palestine and got his medical degree at Al-Quds University in the West Bank … “It’s a tragic fact but Palestine is an ideal place for depression research because of its young population, for whom the impact is much worse than on old people, and genetic homogeneity, which allows us to isolate other factors. These people have been living here continuously for a hundred thousand years,” says Herzallah. “Let’s turn the problem into an advantage and train the next generation to deal with it.” The Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative has already submitted eight research papers, half of which have been published and half are still under academic review. It received a $300,000 award last year from the U.S. National Institutes of Health for a project to study how major depressive disorder affects learning and memory.
Why hasn’t a third intifada broken out yet among the Palestinians?
Haaretz 17 Feb by Amira Hass — The question that has been raised frequently over the last few days — Do the clashes this week portend a third intifada? — is being asked from a narrow Israeli, military perspective. It is a perspective that accepts Israeli control over the Palestinians as the natural order of things, an order the Palestinians are disturbing. We should be flipping the question on its head: How is it that the third intifada has yet to erupt? … Despite the impression that comes across from some of the Israeli punditry, the Palestinians are not just pawns of their leaders who either attack IDF soldiers or refrain from doing so based on orders they received. What’s surprising about the demonstrations in support of the Palestinian hunger strikers imprisoned in Israel is not the hundreds of people took part but the hundreds of thousands of people who have every reason to march against those who symbolize the occupying power, and have not done so. The victims and the suffering that were part of the previous uprisings, and the Israeli suppression of them, did not produce the desired changes. On the contrary, there are many who say that each of the previous intifadas made the Palestinians’ situation worse. But past failure is not enough of a reason not to give a third intifada a try. One major explanation for the fact that the Palestinians have yet to do so is a lack of confidence in the Palestinian leadership — whether it’s Fatah, some of whose leaders are calling for demonstrations and some of whose leaders are urging caution, or Hamas, which also speaks in two voices: that of cease-fire and stabilization and development when it comes to Gaza, and that of all-out war when it comes to anywhere else.
Video: Israeli settler lecturing Palestinian farmers — ‘You’ll all be our slaves, if you’re worthy, if you behave well’
Mondoweiss 27 Feb by Annie Robbins — This video, recorded December 27, 2012 by a B’Tselem volunteer, documents a Jewish settler attempting to convince Palestinian farmers, he is the rightful owner of their land using a logic only some people can appreciate. The conversation is taking place after an Israeli High Court decision resulting from a petition filed by the Palestinian owners demanding access to their land which has been obstructed for years. This is privately owned agricultural land belonging to villagers of Yasuf, located in the Salfit region in the heart of the West Bank. Yasuf land is almost completely surrounded by illegal settlements and outposts, including the radical settlement of Tapuach, site of a Kahanist yeshiva. Yasuf villagers have suffered violent attacks for years and the farmers have been denied access to thousands of dunams of their land since 2001.
As Lincoln abolished slavery, Israel must abolish occupation / Bradley Burston
Haaretz ‘A Special Place in Hell’ blog 26 Feb — …I know something of American history. I know much about the Civil War. But for my wife and I, the two and a half hours we watched “Lincoln,” were spent watching our Israel tear itself to death over how we relate to, or manage not to relate to, Palestinians as people. Over and over, in the film’s debates over slavery, an endless, unbearable war, and their interconnections, it was impossible not to see the parallels to Israeli society, politics, warfare, and daily life … I realize now why “apartheid” is too easy, too slick, too Madison Avenue a term, for what occupation truly is and does. Occupation is slavery. In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.
The Biblical pseudo-archaeologists pillaging the West Bank / Dylan Bergeson
[with an interactive map/guide to Israel's secret archaeology projects in Palestine] The Atlantic 28 Feb — Finding the elusive, unregulated Israeli bureaucrat who lets American evangelicals run amok in the Palestinian territories — …At first blush, Price seems like an unlikely candidate to head excavations amid one of the bitterest land disputes in the modern world. Though he never actually received a degree in archaeology, he built a global network around his brand of Near East biblical scholarship with an apocalyptic bent. He has written extensively for the website RaptureReady.com, given lectures suggesting that Iran is fulfilling the role of Antichrist, and has openly called for the United States to declare war on Islam … Price’s politics are unlikely to disrupt his access to the Qumran plateau, however. Located in the West Bank, permits to excavate around Qumran are not issued by the Palestinian Authority, but rather by Israel’s Civil Administration. It’s a bizarre arrangement, which critics say allows Israeli officials and religious pseudo-scientists to cooperate in raiding cultural treasures.
Palestinian Oscar nominee’s unwelcome arrival to US / Michael Moore
Stillwater Gazette 28 Feb — Feb. 19 was the Motion Picture Academy-sponsored dinner in Beverly Hills, Calif., honoring the directors and producers of this year’s five nominated films for Best Documentary. The dinner was an occasional tradition my wife and I started six years ago when we took our fellow nominees (we were nominated for “Sicko”) out for a meal to get to know each other. The Academy liked the idea, so this year it held dinners during Oscar Week for each of the separate branches’ Oscar nominees. Thus, as an elected Governor of the Documentary Branch, I and my fellow Governors — Michael Apted and Rob Epstein — co-hosted the nominee dinner for the documentary filmmakers. But one of the nominated directors was not there — Emad Burnat, the co-director of the Oscar-nominated “5 Broken Cameras.” This exceptional, award-winning movie about how Emad’s village in the West Bank used non-violence to oppose the Israeli government’s decision to build a wall straight through their farms and village — only to see (and capture on camera) Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinian civilians — had become the first Palestinian documentary ever nominated by the Academy. While we awaited Emad’s arrival from the airport — he and his family had already spent almost six hours at an Israeli checkpoint as he was attempting to drive to Amman, Jordan, to catch their plane — I received an urgent text from Emad, written to me from a holding cell at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).