Palestinian hunger striker Issawi ‘on the verge of death’
Al-Akhbar 14 Mar — Palestinian hunger-striker Samer Issawi is on the verge of death according to a statement from his sister Shirine Issawi Thursday, a day after he decided to refuse both liquids and vitamins. The statement was given to the web magazine Palestine Online. Palestine’s prisoners’ rights group Addameer had reported Wednesday that Issawi was suffering from severe heart problems, the latest in a series of illnesses Issawi has contracted since the start of his 236 day hunger strike. Issawi has lost 45 kilograms and his condition is reported to have deteriorated significantly since his hearing on February 21, which ruled that he would be released on March 6. Issawi remains in police custody, and his legs are said to be shackled to his hospital bed.
WATCH: Palestinian couple divulge psychological impact of Israeli imprisonment in short video
EI 13 Mar by Maureen Clare Murphy — A Palestinian couple, Shirin and Thaer Halahleh, frankly describe the profound impact of Israel’s repeated arrests of the husband on their married life and psychological health in a new short video produced by the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq. Thaer Halahleh made headlines last year when he went on a weeks-long hunger strike to protest his detention without charge or trial — a practice known as administrative detention. Thaer, 34, has spent an elapsed total of nearly ten years in administrative detention. As Shirin Halahleh explains in the video, administrative detention orders, imposed by a military court judge, are indefinitely renewable, and families often do not learn until the last moment that the orders are renewed..
IPS holds five Palestinians in complete isolation
RAMALLAH (PIC) 13 Mar — The Israeli prison service is holding five Palestinian prisoners in complete isolation, the Palestinian prisoner’s society said in a statement on Tuesday. It said that the oldest prisoner in isolation is Dirar Abu Sisi, from Gaza Strip, who has been in solitary confinement ever since his detention in February 2011. It added that three others are in Beersheba isolation, one of whom was recently transferred to Raymond, and the fifth in Ohli Kadar.
This court case was my only hope
PCHR 13 Mar – At approximately 07:30 am on 5 January 2009, during ‘Operation Cast Lead’, Israeli forces fired a tank shell at the house of Hany Abdel Dayem. At the time of the attack, members of the Dayem family were mourning the death of a family member named Arafa, a medic, who had been killed in an Israeli attack on the previous day while he was on duty treating other injured people. A number of civilians were injured in the first attack. The family erected a tent outside their damaged home, in order to hold the traditional mourning service but, less than an hour later, Israeli forces attacked the tent with two more tank shells and, as a result, 5 members of the Dayem family were killed and 17 others were injured. Arafat Hassan Abdel Dayem (24) was severely injured in the second attack, when several flechettes from a tank shell pierced his body. One of the flechettes hit Arafat in the neck, impairing his nervous system. He has been paralyzed ever since, no longer able to walk and experiencing great difficulty using his arms and hands without assistance. On 19 August 2010, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) filed a civil compensation case before the Israeli court on Arafat’s behalf but, on 14 February 2013, the case was dismissed by the court on the grounds that certain Israeli legal provisions, in particular a 2012 amendment to the Israeli Civil Tort Law, absolve the State of Israel of any liability arising from the damages caused by Israeli forces during a ‘combat action’.
EU to send delegation to evaluate the situation of Palestinian detainees
IMEMC 15 Mar — The European Parliament decided to send a fact-finding mission to evaluate the conditions Palestinian detainees face in Israeli prisons, especially detained children and women. The mission’s visit comes a few weeks after the death of detainee Arafat Jaradat, who was tortured to death at an Israeli interrogation and detention center. The EU Parliament voted on Thursday evening for sending the fact-finding mission, and called on Israel to cooperate and to open an immediate, independent and transparent investigation into the death of Jaradat, as well as many other issues regarding the situation of Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.
US, Israel and EU accused of complicity in torture of Palestinians in PA custody
MEMO 13 Mar — The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in UK has accused the US, Israel and the EU of complicity in the torture of Palestinians in the custody of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Testimony collected by the AOHR, it said in statement, “makes it clear that the PA security services practice systematic torture in its prisons without any monitoring by the judiciary”. The US, Israel and the EU all have joint security missions with the PA, says the AOHR. “This means that they must know what is going on inside PA prisons, which also means that they are complicit in the torture and related crimes.” The organisation has called for formal investigations to be carried out on the basis of the evidence it has collected, similar to those in place looking at criminal abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Media face a Palestinian kick
RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank, Mar 14 2013 (IPS) by Mel Frykberg — In an extraordinary move, a civilian has been sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for posting a picture on Facebook of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dressed in a Real Madrid soccer outfit and kicking a ball. The sentencing is among several instances of a targeting of media in Palestinian areas. Anas Saad Awad, 26, from the northern West Bank village of Awarta near Nablus, was sentenced in the Nablus magistrate’s court, that convicted him of “criticising the government.” Awad was unable to address the court as the conviction was carried out while he was elsewhere in the court building. Awad’s lawyer Rima Al Sayed said her client has been accused of photo-shopping a picture of Abbas wearing a Real Madrid shirt with the caption: ‘A new striker’. According to Sayed, the Palestinian judiciary had applied Article 195 of Jordan’s penal code, which criminalises criticism of the Jordanian king. The use of Jordanian law by Palestine’s judiciary is not unusual…
Violence / Attacks / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests
Tulkarem teenager injured by Israeli fire
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 14 Mar – A young Palestinian man was shot and seriously injured by Israeli troops near Tulkarem in the northern West Bank Thursday evening. The victim was identified as 18-year-old Hamza Haloub. He was hit by a live gunshot to his lower chest while walking near the Jashouri factories area west of Tulkarem. Haloub was evacuated to Thabit Thabit Hospital where medics said the bullet settled in a sensitive area between the chest and abdomen, but he was in a stable condition.
4 injured at protests over al-Teiti killing
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Four Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets on Wednesday in clashes with Israeli forces in Hebron, witnesses said. Palestinians protested the killing of 25-year-old Mahmoud al-Teiti by Israeli forces a day earlier in al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron. Protesters threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring four people, witnesses said. Locals said soldiers arrested 23-year-old Awda Saeed Nasser. Al-Teiti, a journalism student, died Tuesday after he was shot in the head with an expanding “dum dum” bullet, medics said.
Israeli army says its troops killed Palestinian after their vehicle was attacked
Haaretz 13 Mar by Chaim Levinson — The army probe into the shooting death of a Palestinian in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp Tuesday showed that the reservists’ vehicle got stuck and came under attack. The soldiers, who had come to make arrests, had to fight their way out using live fire … Titi is the eighth Palestinian to die from IDF fire in the West Bank over the past four months.
PCHR weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (7-13 March 2013)
14 Mar – In an excessive use of lethal force, the Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 5 others, including 3 children, in Hebron. A Palestinian civilian died from previous wounds in the West Bank. The Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protests in the West Bank. 3 Palestinian civilians, including a photojournalist, were wounded in protests against the annexation wall and settlement activities. Dozens of Palestinians, including a 5-year-old child, suffered from tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises in solidarity demonstrations supporting the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. The Israeli forces continued to open fire at the Palestinian civilians in the border area of the Gaza Strip A Palestinian civilian was wounded in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces conducted 54 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 4 limited ones in the Gaza Strip. 31 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were arrested in the West Bank, and a child was arrested in the central Gaza Strip when he attempted to cross the border into Israel….
Ahead of Obama’s visit Israel detains scores of Palestinians in the West Bank
MEMO 14 Mar — On Thursday morning at dawn Israeli occupation forces detained scores of Palestinian citizens from several cities across the West Bank. Palestinian sources said that those detained had been taken from their homes in the dark. The occupation forces carried out extensive searches of the homes, damaging the properties and confiscating computers and mobile phones …Four of the detainees from Jerusalem were seized by Israeli special forces. Witnesses said that the Israeli forces broke into 18-year-old Yazan Syam’s house in Silwan. After detaining Yazan, the forces reportedly harshly beat his family members. According to the director of Wadi al-Helwa Information Centre, Jawad Syam, the Israeli special forces also broke into the Muheisin family house in Al-Bustan neighbourhood and subjected the residents to beatings. Activists said that the mass detention campaign was a continuation of the detentions that Israeli forces had carried out in the wake of the protests that erupted after the Israeli storming of the Al-Aqsa mosque last Friday.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces in the Talfeet neighbourhood near Nablus fired tear gas at school students. Local sources said that 30 students required first aid treatment for breathing problems. Sources in the West Bank told MEMO that this was the fourth time Israeli forces had targeted Palestinian schools in the West Bank this month.
Journalist and activist, Ahmed al-Betawi, from Nablus said that there were two reasons behind the increasing Israeli detentions. The first reason, Al-Betwai told MEMO, was the Israeli occupations attempt to prevent the outbreak of a new Intifada in the West Bank … The other reason, according to Al-Betawi, is the upcoming President Obama visit. “Obama might oblige the Israeli government to release a number of Palestinian prisoners as a good-will gesture before the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Therefore, they (are) trying to detain a large number of prisoners.
Dozens injured in Nablus, six kidnapped
IMEMC 14 Mar — …Also on Thursday, the army invaded the Industrial Zone in Beit Eeba [or Bayt Iba] village, west of Nablus, and kidnapped one resident.The army broke into the Near East Trade and Industry Company, interrogated the workers while inspecting their ID cards, and kidnapped Abbas Abu Mustafa. Furthermore, the soldiers invaded the Old City of Nablus, broke into and searched several homes, and kidnapped five Palestinians.
Israeli forces detain 4 in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians in East Jerusalem at dawn Thursday during raids on their homes. Troops detained Adel Najib, 28, and Ibrahim Rezeq, 27, from the Old City. In Silwan, forces arrested 20-year-old Iyad al-Shalabi and 18-year-old Yazan Siam, a Ma‘an reporter said. The detainees’ parents told Ma‘an that forces ransacked their homes and confiscated clothes and shoes to identify the suspects from footage filmed at demonstrations.
Army kidnaps 23 Palestinians in the West Bank
IMEMC 14 Mar — Thursday at dawn March 14, 2013, Israeli soldiers invaded several Palestinian communities in different parts of the occupied West Bank, and kidnapped 23 Palestinians. The soldiers broke into and searched dozens of homes causing damage. Local sources in Bethlehem District reported that the army invaded Beit Fajjar town, and kidnapped twelve Palestinians.
… The army also kidnapped two residents identified as Ahmad Hussein Jallad, from Aqaba town near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, and Ahmad Salem ‘Aamoudy, from Borqeen [Burqin] nearby town. They were both kidnapped while working in Israel, local sources reported. In Jenin city, the soldiers kidnapped Ammar Mahmoud Samara, 23, after invading his home in Al-Hadaf neighborhood. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, Israeli soldiers kidnapped a 34-year old woman identified as Naheel Talal Abu Aisha, 34, after breaking into her home in Jabal Abu Romman area in the city. A Palestinian child, identified as Ehab Abu Al-Halawa, 16, was also kidnapped in Bab Al-Zawiya area, in the center of Hebron city. In Doura town, south of Hebron, the army kidnapped Nidal Mohammad Al-Aqeely, 22, and Ahmad Abdul-Majeed Ibrewish 26….
Occupation arrests 3 citizens, including ex-prisoner
AL-KHALIL, OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 13 Mar — Israeli forces arrested at dawn Wednesday three citizens from al-Khalil and Nablus, including liberated prisoner Mahmoud Hamdi Shabana, the Director of the Office of Hamas’ deputies in al-Khalil Governorate in the southern West Bank. Shabana’s brother told PIC that the occupation forces raided their house in Al Salam Street, and seized his brother’s phone and computer, in addition to 1800 Jordanian Dinar. He pointed out that his brother has been released only 49 days ago, after serving 31 months in administrative detention. The Israeli soldiers have also arrested a young man from Ma‘in area, south of al-Khalil, and transferred him to the police station in Kiryat Arba settlement, in east al-Khalil, for interrogation. Israeli occupation forces stormed at a late hour of night the village of Burin, south of Nablus city, and arrested a citizen then took him to Hawara camp southern of the city. Meanwhile; the occupation Magistrate’s Court has extended the detention of two youths from Issawiya, and released a third on bail, lawyer for the Information Center in Wadi al-Hilweh Mohamed Mahmoud said
Israelis hurt in West Bank crash ‘after stones thrown’
AFP 14 Mar — A two-year-old Israeli girl was seriously injured on Thursday after she, her two sisters and their mother were in a West Bank car crash police said was apparently caused by stone-throwing Palestinians. The accident took place near the Jewish settlement of Ariel in the northern West Bank. “The mother, who was driving on a road near Ariel, was moderately injured, as were two of her daughters, after their car collided with a truck, probably because it had been stoned,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. “Her third daughter, who is two years old, is gravely injured in hospital,” he said, adding that an investigation into the crash had begun. “But it is highly likely that the accident was caused by stone-throwing, because the truck’s windscreen was smashed and several stones were found on the road,” he said.
PA says secured release of girl from Israeli custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — The Palestinian military liaison office in Bethlehem intervened to release a 14-year-old girl from Bethlehem on Tuesday after the Israeli army detained her for stone-throwing, an official said. Amin Abu Wa’er, the director of the Palestinian liaison office in Bethlehem, told Ma‘an that the office was trying to protect all Palestinians, especially children … The girl was detained in the Aqabet Hasna area west of Bethlehem.
Hamas: PA arrests 2 members from Hebron
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Hamas said Wednesday that Palestinian security forces arrested two of its members in the occupied West Bank. The Islamist movement said in a statement that PA forces arrested the Hamas affiliates in Hebron. The statement included the names of the two detainees.
Hamas: PA arrests 10 members in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Hamas on Thursday said Palestinian Authority security forces arrested 10 party members in the West Bank. Forces of the Fatah-led PA detained Hamas affiliates in Hebron and northwest of Jerusalem
Israeli gunboats terrorize Palestinian fishermen
GAZA (PIC) 14 Mar — Israeli navy gunboats opened intensive fire at Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip at dawn Thursday forcing them to retreat to shore. Eyewitnesses told a PIC reporter that the gunboats fired in the air and at the Palestinian fishing boats off Sudaniya coast. They said that the fishermen, who were trying to fish within the six nautical miles perimeter fixed by the Israeli occupation, were terrorized by the attack and abandoned work.
IOF soldiers bulldoze land [in the] south of Gaza
KHAN YOUNIS (PIC) 13 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) advanced around 150 meters into eastern Khan Younis, [in the] south of the Gaza Strip, on Wednesday morning. Human rights sources told the PIC reporter that two tanks and seven military bulldozers were leveling land east of Farahin suburb in Abbasan Al-Kabira village.
Gantz warns of Gaza ground offensive
JewishNews 14 Mar — A ground invasion in Gaza is likely in the future, the IDF’s Chief of Staff suggested this week. Benny Gantz said: “We will need to go into the tunnels of Gaza, into the fox holes and the villages … We can’t only play video games … it requires physical presence on the ground and that’s what we need to prepare our forces for.” Gantz, who was speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference, said that following an intolerable prior situations, four months after Operation Pillar of Defence it was clear that “the goal of that operation was completely achieved” as could be seen from the absolute quiet in the south, save for one incident which was under investigation. But, he added, “We are prepared just as we were to act should it become necessary.”
Bardaweel: Hamas will continue to smuggle weapons into Gaza
IMEMC 14 Mar — Salah Bardaweel, a political leader of the Hamas movement in Gaza, and an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated Thursday that his movement will continue the smuggling of weapons into the coastal region as part of its resistance activities against the Israeli occupation, and added “no one in the entire world can stop it from doing so”. His statements came during a forum organized by the Islamic Bloc at the Al-Aqsa University in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Bardaweel said that armed resistance is a very important means of activities meant for the liberation of Palestine from the Israeli occupation.
Medics: 2 killed, 3 hurt in Gaza house fire
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Two children were killed and three others were wounded in a house fire in Absan village east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Tuesday, medics said. Medical sources told Ma‘an that Wisaam Natheir Abu Tir, 11, and his brother Qassim, 5, died of serious burns. Three other children were wounded and transferred to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. Eyewitness said that the family members used a gas powered lantern for the home. Moath, 13, Maria, 7, and Mahmoud, 14 were injured. When the fire erupted, the children tried to extinguish it but failed.
EU representative opens young Palestinian refugees’ photo exhibition in Gaza
PNN 14 Mar — The EU Representative, Mr. John Gatt-Rutter, Wednesday opened an exhibition featuring photos of the EU-UNRWA photo competition titled ‘Change the Picture’ at Rashad El Shawa Cultural Centre in Gaza City … “I am very happy the EU-UNRWA photo exhibition is traveling to Gaza this week and that we can meet with and hear from the winners. Young Palestinians are the best advocates concerning their lives, ambitions and rights. Through this competition we wanted to give voice to young people and help them reach out to the wider world”, said the EU Representative. “Young Palestine refugees in Gaza live under extremely difficult circumstances but still manage to preserve their creativity and play a leading role in their communities.
VIDEO: People in Gaza condemn attacks on Press TV
Press TV 14 Mar by Ashraf Shannon — People in Gaza have expressed their support for Press TV [of Iran] amid a western campaign against the alternative news channel. European Union has escalated its illegal moves against the news channel by imposing travel and financial restrictions on Press TV C.E.O Mohammad Sarafraz as well as the channel’s newsroom director Hamid Reza Emadi. The Palestinian NGOs network which represents more than one hundred and thirty civil society organizations has denounced the attacks on Press TV. Press TV has been under repeated attacks by European satellite providers to silence it over the past two years. Ever since its launch in 2007, the channel has been extensively covering Israeli aggressions against Palestinians while other international channels have turned a blind eye. Many observers think in the world of Zionist-controlled media, Press TV is the voice of the voiceless.
Excerpts from life in Gaza / Eva Bartlett
13 Mar — [remarkable word pictures of what Gaza is really like] …Over low hills that are central Gaza Over the newly re-constructed coastal bridge, still being optimistically hand-painted red and white checks, as bright and new looking as the felled inner bridge (also only recently re-constructed before its re-destruction in Nov 2012). Past plots of grape vines, twisted and arid — its not grape season, but when it is, these plots provide Gaza’s best grapes. Past battered wooden lifeguard huts on empty beach. In 2 months the beach will swarm with people desperate to cool off… equally desperate for some sort of recreation in a Strip devoid of theatres, bowling, any ‘normal’ universal recreation, where even tv reception is marred by zananas (drones) above. Two young men collecting used metals and old batteries clog the road with their rickety homemade tuktuk, slowing our driver, who immediately guns it upon passing them. A donkey cart and a toddler pushing his tricycle into the road again slow our driver. He curses. Children walk along the road — there are no sidewalks on most busy streets — from their early morning shift of school, make room for 2nd shift in overcrowded schools….
Qaradawi in Gaza next May
DOHA, Qatar (PIC) 13 Mar — Renowned Egyptian religious scholar and propagator Dr. Yousef Al-Qaradawi has promised to visit the Gaza Strip in the first week of May. Qaradawi announced his intention during a meeting with Gaza minister of Awqf and religious affairs Dr. Ismail Radwan in Doha.
BBC insists UN wrong, Israel killed Gaza baby
Jewish Chronicle 14 Mar by Marcus Dysch — The BBC has contested the findings of a United Nations report into an explosion that killed the baby son of one of the corporation’s correspondents … In a piece published on the BBC website on November 26 last year, Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison dismissed the possibility of the explosion having been caused by a Hamas rocket, saying it was “most likely” Omar had been killed by an Israeli strike. Despite the UN findings, Mr Donnison stuck to that conclusion this week, writing that Israeli military officials had “privately briefed journalists that they had been targeting a militant who was in the building” where Omar was killed, and that the Israelis had reported no rockets being fired from Gaza by Hamas at that time.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing
Israel razes Araqib village for the 48th time
NEGEV (PIC) 13 Mar — Israeli bulldozers razed the homes and tents of Araqib village inhabitants in the Negev, occupied in 1948, on Wednesday for the 48th time. The Islamic movement in the Negev said in a statement that such acts by the Israeli authorities would not deter the Negev inhabitants from persisting in demanding their right to live in their land and to defend it with all means possible.
IOA orders demolition of Palestinian residential building in Beit Jala
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (PIC) 14 Mar — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) issued on Wednesday a demolition order against a Palestinian residential building in Beit Jala town in Bethlehem at the pretext of its location in area C and its construction without license. The owner Simon Al-Aaraj had started the construction of his building in 2000 after he received verbal approval from the IOA’s civil administration in Beit Eil city allowing him to build in a piece of land located within the zoning plan of Beit Jala and accordingly he obtained a construction permit from the municipal council of Beit Jala. As the second intifada broke out at the end of 2000, he stopped the construction, and in 2012 he managed to renew the license papers in order to build more stories. Aaraj’s building is located opposite Israel’s segregation wall in Beit Jala.
Israel to uproot 100 palm trees near Jericho
JERICHO, March 14 (WAFA) – Israeli soldiers Thursday handed a Palestinian notice to uproot 100 palm trees in his land near the illegal settlement of Argaman built north of Jericho, said the land owner. Hasan al-Jarmi told WAFA that Israeli soldiers inspected the area and hanged a notice to uproot his 100 palm trees. He called on right groups to intervene and stop this arbitrary decision that only aims to pressure the Palestinians of the Jordan Valley.
Settlers chase Palestinians off farmland near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 14 Mar – Israeli settlers from Ma’on settlement near Yatta south of Hebron on Thursday vandalized summer crops in fields belonging to Palestinian farmers from Yatta, an official said. Local popular committee spokesman Ratib al-Jubour said in a statement that settlers from the illegal settlement chased Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the nearby area al-Kharrouba. The statement added that settlers allowed their own sheep to graze on the farmland. The fields belong to Rabai family, according to the statement.
Israeli settlers uproot hundreds of trees in West Bank farms
MEMO 13 Mar — Israeli settlers have recently uprooted around 1,000 trees from several farms around the West Bank cities of Nablus and Bethlehem, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported. When Palestinian farmer, Ahmed Meqbel, went to work at his farm in al-Qaryout village to the south of Nablus on Tuesday, he found that Israeli settlers had uprooted 121 of his newly planted olive trees [as reported Tuesday]. Meqbel blamed the incident on settlers living in the nearby settlement of Shafot Rahel … Meanwhile, another activist in the aforementioned committee, Ahmed Salah, said that Israeli settlers had uprooted 350 fruit bearing trees in al-Khader village to the south of city. The trees belonged to the farmer Ismail Sobeeh. The activist told al-Quds newspaper that Sobeeh had been shocked when he saw the Israeli settlers uprooting grape, olive and fig trees from his land. According to the activist, Sobeeh and his family live on the revenues from his farm. The chief of Al-Khader municipality, Tawfeeq Salah, said that Israeli settlers had recently seized more than 500 dunams of land in the area.
Settlers steal IDF tent set up to deter Palestinians
Ynet 13 Mar — Yitzhar settlers steal tent aimed to deter Palestinians from erecting outpost; IDF enraged: Crossing all the lines; Yitzhar dismisses incident as ‘youthful act’ — …”It’s a very serious affair, even beyond the theft,” said a high ranking officer in the Judea and Samaria Division. “Yitzhar has a handful of violent outlaws and we’ll do everything to continue and enforce the law and imprison those who deserve it,” he added. According to the officer, the incident is part of a general trend. “These people cause damage in several areas, first of all, when they repeatedly harm villages in the area,” he said. “Eventually there will be payback, and that’s a burden on security. Even worse, they damage the settlement by tainting its image.”
Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount
On the Temple Mount, a battle brews over Jewish prayer
Times of Israel 12 Mar by Matti Friedman — On Tuesday, the struggle of Jewish women fighting to worship with prayer shawls at the Western Wall in Jerusalem received renewed attention when protesters at the holy site were joined by several new members of Knesset, spotlighting Israel’s ongoing policy of imposing Orthodox practice on all worshipers at the wall. But in the coming years a different battle over Jewish prayer, one unfolding a few paces away, is likely to be of more significance — a growing debate over whether Jews should be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount itself … The numbers of Jews actually visiting the Mount for religious reasons is still tiny — no more than several thousand a year, according to police estimates — but inching upward, and the sacred enclosure is slowly gaining in importance as an issue of religious and political meaning for religious Zionists, a group with outsize ideological and political clout in Israeli society. That could make it a flashpoint inside Israel and an inflammatory issue for local Muslims and the entire Islamic world.…
Israel tries to create new reality in Al-Aqsa Mosque with settler incursions
MEMO 13 Mar — The Grand Shaikh of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Ekrema Sabri, has accused the Israelis of trying to create a new reality inside Al-Aqsa Mosque through repeated incursions by illegal Jewish settlers. An intensive campaign of “visits” by extremist Jews and even Members of the Knesset has been taking place in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest mosque in Islam. “They want to create a divided holy site based on time and place,” explained Shaikh Sabri to MEMO. “Israel plans to ban Muslims from being in the mosque courtyards from the morning until midday, with a section of the sanctuary reserved only for Jews.” The plan, added the Grand Shaikh, was adopted by the previous right-wing government and will be adopted by the new right-wing government. To counter Israel’s plans, Shaikh Sabri said that the Muslims of Jerusalem are carrying out measures such as encouraging Shari’ah education inside the mosque. “This kind of education maintains an Islamic presence within the Mosque.” The people also carry out protests and other popular actions, he pointed out.
Raed Salah: The repeated incursions into al-Aqsa are prelude to dividing it
UMM AL-FAHM (PIC) 14 Mar — Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic movement in 1948-occupied Palestine, warned against the Israeli escalation against the city of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular. Sheikh Salah told Quds Press that the recent Israeli escalations against al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli political and religious figures aim to divide the mosque just as what happened with the Ibrahimi mosque in al-Khalil. Sheikh Salah added that the Israeli occupation’s main aim is to build the alleged Temple at the expense of Al-Aqsa mosque
Six Palestinians killed in Syria half of them of one family
DAMASCUS (PIC) 13 Mar — Six Palestinians were killed in Syria on Tuesday including three of one family when they were targeted by Syrian regular army gunfire. Sources in the Yarmouk refugee camp, south of the capital Damascus, said that a grenade was tossed at a group of people while trying to enter the camp killing one of them. They said that the man, Mohammed Shamut, was instantly killed while others were wounded, adding that his son Issam and his cousin Amin tried to pull his body but bullets were fired at them also killing them on the spot. The sources said that three young men were killed in the camp’s sports city while playing. They said that shelling on the sports stadium killed Mustafa Daraji, Mazen Shihabi, and Mohammed Addad. They said that at least 14 other young men were injured in the shelling.
Seven Palestinian refugees killed in Syria including two children
DAMASCUS (PIC) 14 Mar — Seven Palestinian refugees were killed in Syria over the past 24 hours as shells continued to blast refugee camps in various areas. The workgroup for Palestinians in Syria said in a statement on Thursday that around 200 bombs slammed into Khan Al-Sheeh refugee camp killing a young man and two children. It said that the two children were brothers, adding that the shelling wounded dozens others in the camp and inflicted big material damage to buildings. Three other Palestinians were killed in another shelling that targeted Yarmouk refugee camp while a fourth was killed in Khalidiya in Homs, adding that he was from Aydoon refugee camp.
Fatah official: Remove Hamas from terrorist list
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Fatah supports removing Hamas from global terrorist lists, but insists the PLO must remain the only representative of the Palestinian people, a central committee member said Wednesday. Amal Hamad said Fatah supports national unity on the Palestinian street, but is concerned that Hamas will announce a “state of Gaza”. “Gaza is part of Palestine, and we will not allow anyone to separate it from the West Bank,” Hamad said. A leader in Hamas, Ismael al-Ashkar, said that most European countries were in direct contact with Hamas, but the issue needed time to be formalized.
New round of local elections set for June 1
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Local elections will be held in 36 municipalities in the West Bank on June 1, the Central Elections Commission said Thursday. Most municipalities voted in new councils in October and November. However in some municipalities, voting was postponed due to court decisions, or because no electoral lists qualified for nomination in the 2012 rounds. In other municipalities which will vote in June, the majority of council members have resigned.
Abbas wants peace talks this year
NOVO-OGARYOVO, Russia (Reuters) 14 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday he hoped peace talks with Israel would restart this year although the chances of a resumption seemed slim. Abbas made his comments during a meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said Russia would do all it could to promote peace in the region.
Livni calls for immediate political agreement with Palestinian Authority
MEMO 14 Mar — Hatnua leader and would-be Israeli Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, said on Tuesday that she wants to reach a political agreement with the Palestinian Authority immediately, noting that she knows who the heirs of the current leaders will be … During the conference organized by the Institute for Policy and Strategy, Livni rejected calls to boycott negotiations with the Palestinians at current time due to the instability in the Arab world. She said that attempting to halt the two-state vision over the changes in the Arab world looks like an animal halting upon seeing the lights of a coming vehicle.
Lithuania upgrades Palestine’s diplomatic status
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Mar – The foreign minister of Lithuania on Wednesday decided to upgrade Palestine’s diplomatic status from a commission to a mission. A statement by the ministry of foreign affairs in Ramallah quoted Linas Antanas Limkevicius as saying he notified the Palestinian ambassador to Finland Nabil al-Wazir of the decision in an official letter.
Ban Ki-Moon: UN will refer to ‘the State of Palestine’ in all official communications
MEMO 14 Mar — In future, the ‘State of Palestine’ will be the official alternative name for the ‘Palestinian Authority’ within all UN institutions, but not in Palestinian-Israeli institutions, Ban Ki-Moon has said … According to the report announced by Ki-Moon, Palestinians have the right to take part in all discussions and meetings held by the UN, but they cannot nominate a representative to occupy any position in the international organization or any of the organizations affiliated to it. They cannot even vote for or against any of the other countries’ nominees. However, they can nominate representatives in the ICC who share decision making on certain issues. “This is what raises Israel’s worries,” the newspaper [Maariv] said. “Based on this right, Palestinians might call for the formation of an international trial to investigate the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”
World Bank transfers $60.5M in budget support to PA
WASHINGTON, March 13 (WAFA) – The World Bank transferred US$60.5 million to the Palestinian Authority from the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF), a multi-donor budget support mechanism administered by the Bank, said a press release by World Bank Wednesday. It said the funds contributed by the governments of the United Kingdom and Norway will help support the urgent budget needs of the PA, providing inter alia support for education, health care and other vital social services for the Palestinian people and for the economic reforms currently underway … With the new tranche release, the PRDP-MDTF will have disbursed about US$991 million.
UK provides $18 million to support PA
JERUSALEM, March 13 (WAFA )- The UK provided $18 million to support the Palestinian Authority amid its financial crisis and help it deliver essential services and strengthen critical institutions, a press release by British Consulate General in Jerusalem said Wednesday. It said $6.4 million of this is additional, in response to progress the PA is making in reforming itself. The UK has provided $18 million to the Palestinian Authority as part of its pledge to provide $155 million over three years … A recent study by the World Bank found that the PA’s financial assistance to poor households in the West Bank and Gaza is one of the best targeted in the world, with 84% of beneficiaries among the poorest 20% of the population.
Russia, Palestine study power station for West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 14 Mar — Russia and Palestine are studying the construction of a power station in the West Bank, the Russian ministry of economic development said Thursday. The statement, quoted by the website Russia Today, explained that Russian banks and companies could be involved in the project. Additionally, Russia may include Palestine on the list of the countries which enjoy privileges related to fees and tariffs in case a free trade agreement is signed.
Hamas denies Shin Bet claims
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 13 Mar — Hamas on Wednesday denied claims by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency that it is planning operations against Israel in the West Bank. Shin Bet said Wednesday that Gaza’s Interior Minister Fathi Hammad was behind efforts to launch attacks from the West Bank, The Jerusalem Post reported. Interior Ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan said the Israeli claims were related to a Hamas crackdown on collaborators. “Accusing the Minister of Interior Fathi Hammad of planning operations in the West Bank is an attempt to avert the eyes of the public off Hamas’ campaign against collaborators,” Shahwan told Ma‘an.
Hamas military wing denies report linking leaders to Egypt attack
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 14 Mar – Hamas’ military wing says it will sue the editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram Al-Arabi magazine over a report Thursday accusing Hamas leaders of killing Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai. “We will file legal proceedings against the editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram over his false claims,” al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Ubayda told a news conference in Gaza City Thursday … Abu Ubayda added that the resistance maintained strong relations with both the Egyptian leadership and the people after the revolution. “The Egyptian people know quite well who the al-Qassam Brigades and Gaza resistance are. The people supported resistance and some did not like that.” … The news conference came after Egypt’s attorney general received a notification from a lawyer urging the AG to take into account reports on satellite TV stations and Al-Ahram Al-Arabi magazine related to an August attack against an Egyptian military base near the border with Gaza in Rafah killing 16 soldiers. The lawyer, Samir Sabri, wrote that about 32 ‘terrorists’ were involved in the attack, the majority of whom were affiliated to fundamentalist Takfir groups accusing Egypt’s army, police and rulers of apostasy. Egyptian security services, according to the notification, have revealed the names of the suspects. Three are affiliated to Hamas and one was identified by his lawyer as Ayman Nofal, a leader within the al-Qassam Brigades.
New Israeli organization aims to be first right-wing Palestinian rights watchdog
Haaretz 14 Mar by Barak Ravid — Yoaz Hendel, chairman of the Institute for Zionist Studies, has set up the first rightist human rights organization of its kind. The organization intends to monitor the violation of Palestinians’ human rights at West Bank checkpoints, collate testimonies of apparent war crimes by IDF soldiers and provide medical assistance to Palestinians and African asylum-seekers … The new organization, dubbed BlueWhite Human Rights, started operating under the IZS about a month ago as the rightist version of leftwing watchdog groups such as Machsom Watch, Breaking the Silence and Physicians for Human Rights. Hendel announced the organization’s establishment in his Facebook page this week. Unlike the leftist organizations, the new group will act in cooperation with the IDF authorities to make sure the complaints are investigated and acted on, he wrote. http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/new-israeli-organization-aims-to-be-first-right-wing-palestinian-rights-watchdog.premium-1.509232?localLinksEnabled=false
Learning from ultra-Orthodox women to get Bedouin into high-tech
TheMarker 14 Mar — Entrepreneurs plan to bring Bedouin into industry by training them as software inspectors – Israel’s high-tech industry is a closed clique of members of the elite who served in the Israeli army’s technology units and went to leading universities … But over the years, other populations have gradually begun entering the high-tech industry. The first ones were Haredi women, who spotted the potential for earning higher salaries than what was customary in their environment. The link in the value chain that the Haredi women chose to join first was quality assurance. By establishing near-shore (as opposed to offshore) employment centers that correspond to the Haredi women’s needs, the women became an alternative to competitors in India and Eastern Europe. Later on, the women started to be employed in additional areas, and went farther up the value chain.
There is another population that would like to adopt that model in high-tech industry: the Bedouins of the Negev, who are completely absent from the field. Ibrahim Sana, who describes himself as the first Bedouin high-tech entrepreneur, is setting up the first Bedouin near-shore project in Israel together with fellow entrepreneur Nir Doron, under the auspices of topXite, a software company in Be’er Sheva … Over the weekend, the first class of about 20 Bedouin, one-third of them women, will graduate. “We felt it would be easier to bring them into the field as software inspectors,” Doron says. Later on, once the graduates are integrated into the industry, another class will begin studies.
High Court: State must explain infiltration law
Ynet 12 Mar – The High Court of Justice announced Tuesday that it intends to issue an order nisi instructing the State to explain why it is not rescinding the infiltration prevention law. The law allows the state to detain foreigners entering Israel via Sinai for a period of three or more years even if they are not up for deportation. The order will be issued as part of a petition filed by Sudanese and Eritrean citizens and human rights groups who claim the law violates international and Israeli law.
Chief Justice: ‘Honor killing’ unacceptable in Islam
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 14 Mar – Killing women under the pretext of so-called family honor is a breach of Islamic law, says the head of the Palestinian Higher Judicial Council chief justice Yousif Ideis. In an article published on the website of the council, Ideis added that the phenomenon has been increasing in Palestine and several “innocent women were targeted without any evidence as advocated in the holy Quran.” He added: “This tradition was spread during the pre-Islamic paganism era, and Islam fought it.” According to the chief justice, such crimes were committed allegedly for religious motives, “but in fact they were motivated by a desire to defend family honor…”
Activists send message to Obama: We want 3G
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 Mar – Visitors to Ramallah will be surprised by newly installed billboards on the main road, mainly in the section near Qalandia refugee camp after the checkpoint. These billboards are not ads for large companies as usual, but rather messages to the US president, who will be visiting the region in less than two weeks. “This initiative was an individual effort aimed at sending two main messages to Obama about the Palestinian people’s conditions under occupation,” says Mahir Alawneh, one of the three young Palestinian men behind the initiative. The first message, he says, highlights the fact that the Palestinian people have been deprived of the right to have 3G telecommunication technology because they compete with Israeli companies.
Israel in secret talks with BG on Palestinian gas
GLOBES 13 Mar by Amiram Barkat — Sources inform ”Globes” that Israel is in secret talks with BG Group plc (NYSE; LSE: BG) (British Gas), which owns the rights to the Palestinian Gaza Marine license, offshore from Gaza. The talks concern development of the reservoir for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. The talks, which have been going on for several months, are unrelated to next week’s visit by US President Barack Obama, but the subject will probably come up during his talks with Israeli leaders. Adv. Yitzhak Molcho is representing Israel in the talks. Quartet Middle East Envoy and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is also involved. So far as is known, there are no direct talks with Palestinian representatives, because of political sensitivities and the complex relationship between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Analysis / Opinion / Interviews / Reviews
Three unconventional documentaries from Gaza / Omar Shabaneh
Amman (Al-Akhbar) 13 Mar — Between 2008 and 2010, Palestinian filmmaker Najah Awadallah made three documentary films about marginalized women in the Gaza Strip. The work of Awadallah, who writes her own films, is a triumph for Palestinian documentary filmmaking, with its distinct intellectual vision and compelling artistic performances … In Awadallah’s “There Here,” she documents the lives of three foreign women — a Romanian, a Bulgarian, and a Russian — living in Gaza. The three women talk of their experiences in Gaza and their husbands in a way that weds the narrated story with the visual material. The women are attached to their environment and local traditions in what is sometimes an alien society to them … “Brides” deals with the life of a struggling woman who married and left her parents’ home at the age of 14 only to later on start a successful business.”I found Asmahan, or Umm Saleh, to have a strong presence, an ability to tell her story in a very powerful way. I admired her as an example of Palestinian women who struggle in the face of hardships, but are able to create something,” said Awadallah. “The Ember Bearer” documents the struggles of Sahbaa al-Barbari, the widow of Palestinian poet Muin Bseiso. Barbari was one of the pioneering communists in Gaza. Through her experience in Egyptian prison under Gamal Abdel Nasser in the early 1950s we discover many details about life in Palestine and Egypt. [Although they don't have these three, the site arabfilm.com has dozens of other Palestinian films available]
Is Obama boycotting Israel’s new settlement university? / Mairav Zonszein
972mag 14 Mar — Ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel on Wednesday, the embassy here is reportedly sending out around 2,000 invitations to Israeli student representatives from universities across the country to attend his speech in Jerusalem on March 21. All except one: Ariel University in the West Bank settlement of the same name (upgraded from a college to an accredited university last year) … MK Yoni Chetboun (Jewish Home) reportedly sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro on behalf of Ariel students, in which he accused the Obama Administration of “boycotting its students,” adding, “Ariel University has been recognized by the Israeli government. By banning its students, your government is taking a specific, unilateral stance, while seemingly saying it isn’t.” … Putting aside how ironic it is for a member of Israeli government to accuse President Obama of a “unilateral stance” when Israel’s policies vis-à-vis the West Bank as well as U.S. politics are well rooted in unilateralism, if Obama’s people really are intentionally excluding the university in Ariel from the Jerusalem speech, this would be a very interesting move.
Why do Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip not warrant a response from the British government? / Ben White
MEMO 13 Mar — On 26 February, Palestinians fired a rocket into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, the first such projectile attack since the ceasefire that brought an end to Israel’s eight-day assault on the blockaded territory (‘Operation Pillar of Defense’). For over three months, there were precisely zero rockets. Yet during the same period, four Palestinians were killed and almost 100 wounded by Israeli forces, with over 60 shooting attacks, a dozen incursions into the Gaza Strip, and some 30 attacks on Palestinian fishermen working in Gaza’s waters. By and large, these incidents have gone unreported in the Western media and it was thus sadly unsurprising that the solitary Palestinian-fired rocket in late February was reported as ‘breaking’ or ‘rattling’ the ceasefire … It is more disturbing to see such problems reflected in government, but that is the only conclusion one can draw from the UK Foreign Office’s shameful record the past few months. The day after the rocket was fired in late February, the Foreign Office’s Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt issued a statement expressing how he is “very concerned” about “the first such incident” since the ceasefire agreement. Burt called on “both parties to respect in full the November ceasefire”, and added: “The calm since November has been welcome: it should be built upon, not reversed.” … Israel’s repeated attacks on Palestinian farmers and fishermen merit, at best, an expression of concern in parliament – while we are left to guess at what the UK government may, or may not, say to Israel “privately”.
Interview with Mousa Abu Marzook, deputy chairman of Hamas political bureau
MEMO 12 Mar — INTERVIEW The Deputy Chairman of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has insisted that there are no prisoners detained on political or religious grounds in Gaza. Mousa Abu Marzook made his claim in an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai. He also claimed that America has threatened to end its $450m of aid to the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority if it goes ahead to reconcile its differences with Hamas. EU countries have also made such threats, he alleges. In response to a question about Egypt’s destruction of a number of tunnels in the border area, Abu Marzook is adamant that the issue has a simple solution: open the Rafah Crossing for goods as well as people and the tunnel owners will have no customers for goods they bring into the country.
Don’t blame settlers for violence against Palestinians / Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz
972blog 13 Mar — Israeli soldiers are the ones who make the prolonged dispossession of the Palestinians possible. If the army wasn’t there, violent settler attacks could not take place … This blog often deals with the depredations of the settlers, but it must be acknowledged that when all is said and done, it’s not their fault. The settlers who go out on “price tag” attacks strongly believe they have rights to the land and the Palestinians don’t, so they do not feel they are stealing from the Palestinians. The patron saint of religious Zionism, the convicted terrorist (Hebrew) and former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, has given explicit permission to the settlers to loot the fruit of the labor of Palestinians (Hebrew); Other rabbis, such as the writers of the “Torat Ha’Melech” tract — incidentally, they too reside in Yitzhar — have gone further, permitting the bloodshed of Palestinians and their children (Hebrew). Why bother complaining about the Price Tag settlers? They don’t consider the Palestinians to be human and they don’t consider Israeli law, much less military law, as binding. The Talmud says that “it’s not the mouse that steals, it’s the hole”: if the mouse didn’t have a hole to run to, it would not steal.
There is a sovereign entity, or at least someone filling its shoes, in the West Bank; that sovereign entity is the IDF. And this sovereign body is not at all enthusiastic about enforcing the law of the land over the whims of the settlers. Generations of officers have learned from experience that enforcing the law can be a major hindrance to their careers.
Are Israel’s refusers modern-day heroes? / Ruth L. Hiller
972mag 13 Mar — Different people refuse to enlist in Israel’s occupation army for a variety of reasons. Some of them, like Natan Blanc, publicly refuse to serve in the occupation and are willing to go to jail over their decision. A recent blog post by professor of Environmental Studies at Emory College Uriel Kitron, raised some very important points regarding militarism, refusal, and war culture in Israel and puts forward a good opportunity to look at the wider refusal movement. Professor Kitron presents his admiration and respect for Natan Blanc, who as of this writing, is serving his seventh incarceration period for refusing to be conscripted… Israeli society is brutal and judgmental; loyalty to the state is measured by one’s commitment to military service. It is frightening to step outside the consensus of what is considered acceptable behavior by daring to refuse.
Wanted: Arab Tom Friedmans / Belén Fernández
Al Jazeera 13 Mar — The columnist appears to want nothing more than to remake the Arab/Muslim world to fit his neoliberal ideas — Among the salient functions of Orientalist pseudo-scholarship is the presentation of the Arab/Muslim world as a barbarian backwater in need of civilisation imported from the West. Integral to this function is the co-optation – whether consensual or not – of certain cohorts within the backwater that are deemed to be sufficiently “like us” so as to justify the civilising effort and endow it with a democratic tinge. Consider the methods of New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, who throughout the course of his career has been forced to endure one Arab/Muslim world-induced headache after another. Whether it’s the Palestinians being “gripped by a collective madness“, the nation of Afghanistan behaving like a “special needs baby“, or the Arab Street insisting on “making potato chips” in an era “when others are making microchips”, the region has proved resistant to progress despite Friedman’s helpful lectures on the revolutionarily democratic nature of the US devastation of Iraq. Mercifully, Friedman encounters occasional pockets of relief such as “emphatically pro-Western Saudis, who have studied in America, visit regularly, and still root for their favourite American football teams”.